Pelicans suffer second late loss in comeback by Keys

pel-buckelThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans suffered a 5-1 defeat to the Frederick Keys on Saturday night at Harry Grove Stadium.

Alexander Claudio struck out a career-high nine batters in 4 2/3 innings, but the Pelicans bullpen took the loss for a second straight night.

The game was scoreless over the first four innings. Both Claudio and Keys starter Brady Wager impressed in their starts. Claudio fanned seven batters in the first four innings, including three straight in the fourth.

Wager faced two over the minimum in the first five innings, allowing a single to Preston Beck and a double to Hanser Alberto.

Alberto’s double extended his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest of his career and the second-longest on the team this season.

With out one in the fifth, Joel Hutter lined a solo home run to left field off of Claudio. The homer was Hutter’s first of the season and ended a 26-inning stretch for Claudio without allowing an earned run. He picked up his ninth strikeout and then walked Sammie Starr to end his night. In total, the southpaw went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run, earned, on four hits, one walk, and nine strikeouts.

Justin Sprenger entered and completed the fifth and then tossed a scoreless sixth.

Wager allowed two runners but no runs in the sixth. In the seventh, the Pelicans (44-23) got their first leadoff man aboard of the night on an infield single from David Lyon. Chris Grayson then singled as well, and both runners moved into scoring position on a fielder’s choice down the first base line by Jose Cardona. Wager then hit Elio Castillo, who went 0-for-3 in his Pelicans debut, to load the bases.

Luis Mendez hit a ground ball to third, and the Keys (30-35) got the force out at home plate. With the bases still loaded, Chris Garia hit a ground ball down the first base line. Joel Hutter, the first baseman, fielded it and flipped to Wager covering first, but Garia beat Wager to the bag. The infield single scored Grayson to tie the game. Keys Manager Luis Pujols was ejected following the play. Alberto then flew out to end the inning with the game tied at 1-1.

Sprenger pitched a perfect seventh inning, but couldn’t escape the eighth. Starr smacked his third home run and second against the Pelicans to begin the inning and give the Keys a 2-1 advantage. Michael Burgess smashed a two-run homer and Zane Chavez lined a solo shot in the inning as well. The final homer spelled the end of the night for Sprenger with the Keys ahead 5-1.

Cody Buckel came on and struck out both batters faced to complete the inning.

Matt Hobgood entered for the ninth and set the Pelicans down in order. Sprenger (0-1) took the loss. Matt Price (2-4), who pitched a scoreless seventh inning, collected the win.

The Pelicans complete the first half on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium against the Keys.

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