Pelicans only one win from taking first title since 2000

pel-skulinaWith a pair of RBI doubles in Game Two of the Mills Cup Championship Series, Victor Caratini led the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, to a 2-0 win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Frawley Stadium on Monday.

Caratini knocked in a run in the first inning and another in the ninth to give the Birds a 2-0 edge in the best-of-five series, and four pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout

With a man at first base and two outs in the top of the first inning, Caratini, the designated hitter on Monday night, ripped an RBI double into the right-field corner to give the Birds a quick 1-0 lead.

The score remained 1-0 into the top of the ninth. Pin-Chieh Chen singled to open the frame and Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, with the Pelicans on a Major League rehabilitation assignment, singled to left field to put runners on the corners. Caratini then blasted a double to the left-center field gap, scoring Chen and giving the Pelicans a 2-0 edge.

Myrtle Beach (81-57, 4-1 postseason) used four different pitchers en route to the shutout win, but starter Tyler Skulina set the tone with five scoreless frames on the mound. After a two perfect innings, he walked a batter and hit a man in the third, but stranded both men to preserve the shutout effort. In the fourth, Skulina put runners at the corners with nobody out. With the tying run at third base, he retired Elier Hernandez with a looking strikeout before getting Cam Gallagher on a soft line out to third base. Second baseman Humberto Arteaga stepped up and lined a fly ball into the left-center field gap, where Chen sprawled out to make a diving catch and maintain the 1-0 Pelicans lead.

Skulina (1-0) collected his first professional postseason win in his first career postseason start on Monday. The right-hander struck out six, two shy of his career-high, and walked one in five innings of work. He surrendered one hit on the night, a fourth-inning single by third baseman Mauricio Ramos.

Daury Torrez took over in relief for the sixth, and Wilmington (62-77, 2-2 postseason) loaded the bases against the right-hander, but they failed to score. After a leadoff double, a one-out walk and a fielding error at second base put a man at each base. Gallagher tapped a soft ground ball to the third-base side of the pitcher’s mound, where Torrez fielded with his bare hand and record the second out at home plate. Torrez then escaped the jam with a foul out down the right-field line.

Torrez finished a scoreless seventh before the Pelicans bullpen closed out the final two frames. Left-hander Tyler Ihrig struck out two and allowed a hit in the eighth, and David Berg pitched a perfect ninth inning, picking up his second save of the postseason to secure the 2-0 win.

Soler finished his night 1-for-4 at the plate with a strikeout. He is expected to remain with the Pelicans throughout the remainder of the Mills Cup Championship Series.

The Birds are off on Tuesday but will host Game Three of the Mills Cup Championship Series on Wednesday, September 16, at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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