Walk-off wild pitch puts end to Pelicans’ road streak

pel-bostickThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans were knocked off 3-2 in extra-innings in their series opener against the Salem Red Sox at LewisGale Field on Friday night.

The loss snapped a franchise record-setting nine-game road winning streak. They have lost three of their last four games, and all three losses have come by one run.

In his return to the starting rotation, Victor Payano put forth one of his best starts of the year. The southpaw allowed only two hits over five innings; he walked just one, and fanned three. One of the two hits he allowed, however, was a home run, which opened the scoring.

In a scoreless game in the third, Reed Gragnani went deep to left field off of Payano. The home run, a two-run shot, was the first of the year for Gragnani in his 82nd game and just the second home run of his career. The longball put the Sox ahead 2-0.

The Pelicans (30-24, 74-48) responded in the next half inning. Chris Garia and Preston Beck both walked off of Salem starter Cody Kukuk. With men at the corners, Garia scored on a wild pitch, which also moved Beck into scoring position. Lewis Brinson hit a ground ball up the middle that was knocked down by second baseman Dreily Guerrero, but Beck was able to score from second on the hit to tie the game at 2-2.

The game was scoreless until the eleventh inning after that.  The Pelicans collected just one hit the rest of the way, a one-out single from Royce Bolinger in the sixth. They did, however, draw ten walks in the contest.

After the third inning, the Red Sox (25-25, 58-60) did not have a runner in scoring position until the tenth. With two outs, Guerrero reached on a fielding error by Christopher Bostick, one of three errors committed by the Pelicans on Friday. He then stole second but was thrown out at home trying to score the game-winning run on a single by Matty Johnson on the fourth outfield assist of the season for Lewis Brinson. The out ended the inning and extended the game to the twelfth frame.

The Birds went 1-2-3 in the top half of the inning, and Salem ended it in the bottom half against Abel De Los Santos. For the second straight inning, an error set up the Red Sox threat. With a man on, Edwin Garcia made a throwing error on a fielder’s choice, allowing two to move into scoring position with no one out. De Los Santos got the first out on a dribbler in front of home plate off the bat of Jantzen Witte, but two pitches later, he uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Carlos Asuaje to score the game-winning run.

De Los Santos (5-1) suffered his first loss of the year, while Nate Reed (2-1) picked up the win.

The Pelicans need a win on Saturday to avoid a series and season-series defeat to the Red Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

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