Pelicans facing elimination after losing playoff opener

pel-torresA pair of first inning home runs set the tone at BB&T Ballpark on Wednesday night as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans fell 4-2 to the Winston-Salem Dash in Game One of the Southern Division Championship Series. The best-of-three format puts the Pelicans on the brink of elimination for Thursday night’s Game Two in Myrtle Beach.

The Dash (75-63 regular season, 1-0 postseason) grabbed their early lead against Pelicans starter Duane Underwood Jr. in the bottom of the first. With two outs, second baseman Jake Peter ripped a sharp single up the middle, and third baseman Trey Michalczewski gave Winston-Salem a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer to right field. The next batter, first baseman Keon Barnum, hit the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall to move the Dash ahead, 3-0.

After surrendering those two early homers, Underwood Jr. settled in and retired nine of the next 10 men he faced.

Myrtle Beach (81-57, 0-1 postseason) responded with a run in the third off of Dash starter Carson Fulmer. Jacob Rogers led off with a single to left field, and two batters later, Jeffrey Baez doubled into the left-field corner to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Chesny Young then bounced into an RBI fielder’s choice at first base that cut the Dash lead to 3-1.

Fulmer was lifted after three innings of work. He allowed a run, which was earned, on two hits while also walking two. He did not record a strikeout.

Fulmer was replaced by left-hander Brian Clark, who pitched a perfect fourth. In the fifth, the Pelicans put two runners on with one out against the lefty, but Baez flew out and Young grounded out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Dash scratched out another run. After a leadoff double, right fielder Nolan Early slapped an RBI single to right for a 4-1 Dash lead. Underwood Jr. fanned the next batter, and another double put two men in scoring position, but Underwood Jr. induced a pair of groundouts back to the mound to quash the threat.

Clark cruised through his first four innings without allowing a run. That changed in the eighth when shortstop Gleyber Torres led off with a solo homer to deep left field that cut the Dash’s lead to 4-2. Baez followed with an infield single, but Young bounced into a double play, and Pin-Chieh Chen lined out to center field to end the inning. It was the fourth twin killing the Birds grounded into on Wednesday night.

The Pelicans bullpen combination of Josh Conway and James Farris pitched the final two innings, and despite each of them putting two runners on, they both finished with scoreless efforts to keep the Birds within striking distance.

Clark (1-0) would finish the eighth, and he picked up the victory. In his five innings of work, he struck out two, did not walk a batter, and allowed three hits, including the homer by Torres.

In the ninth, closer Brad Goldberg came on and retired the Birds in order to pick up the save and seal the Dash’s 4-2 win.

Underwood Jr. (0-1) was lifted after six innings of work and took the loss. The right-hander allowed four runs, all earned, on seven hits while walking none and striking out three.

The Birds return home to host Game Two of the Southern Division Championship Series on Thursday, September 10, at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark with a 7:05 p.m.

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