Hillcats foil Skulina shutout bid in 1-0 win over Pelicans

pel-skulinaThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans carried a scoreless effort into the ninth inning on Friday night, but the Lynchburg Hillcats snuck away with a 1-0 win at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

Pelicans starter Tyler Skulina fired a season-high seven innings while striking out seven batters, one shy of his career-best.

The Hillcats (30-31) pounced in the final frame for the game’s lone run. With the contest scoreless in the top of the ninth inning, center fielder Clint Frazier lined a ground-rule double down the left field line against reliever Fernando Cruz. The next batter, right fielder Bradley Zimmer, then stroked a triple into the right field corner to move Lynchburg in front, 1-0.

Myrtle Beach (35-25) stranded six men on base, including Pin-Chieh Chen on three occasions after he walked three times. Chesny Young stretched his hit-streak to five games with a first inning single to left field. The right-handed hitter has three hit-streaks of five or more games since he joined the Pelicans on May 15. He began his time with the Pelicans with a six-game hit-streak, and from May 28-June 5, he tallied a season-high nine-gamer. Each of his previous hit-streaks have included five multi-hit games, and his current stretch includes three multi-hit efforts.

Skulina tied a team-high for innings pitched this season, matching Daury Torrez who went seven frames on April 23, and Duane Underwood Jr., who did the same on May 7. Skulina walked four batters, but only allowed two hits. In three consecutive innings, the righty stranded runners in scoring position each time, including the fourth and fifth frames, when he left runners at third base.

The Pelicans offense worked Lynchburg starter Michael Peoples upward of thirty pitches in the second inning alone, but the right-hander lasted five complete innings, walking two and striking out four along the way. He took no decision as former Cubs farmhand Casey Weathers (1-1) picked up his first win of the year with just 1/3 of an inning of work from the bullpen. Entering the eighth with two outs and Chen at first base, the righty balked the go-ahead run into scoring position, but struck out Young swinging to end the threat. The win is Weathers’ first since July 30, 2012, when he fired one inning of relief for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies in a 3-2 decision over Pensacola.

With the loss, and nine games to play in the first half, Myrtle Beach’s lead in the Carolina League Southern Division is trimmed to four games ahead of Salem, who beat Wilmington on Friday. The Blue Rocks lead the Northern Division by four games over Lynchburg.

Cruz  (0-1) took his first loss of the year after giving up an earned run on three hits across two innings of work. Ben Heller picked up his sixth save with one perfect inning out of the Lynchburg bullpen, striking out two in the ninth to seal the 1-0 win.

The series against the Hillcats continues on Saturday, with the first pitch from TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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