Pelicans sweep doubleheader, series behind excellent starting pitching
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (June 7, 2016) - Excellent starting pitching from Erick Leal and Jeremy Null helped Myrtle Beach sweep Tuesday's doubleheader over Potomac by identical 4-3 scores, with the pair of victories earning the Pelicans a four-game brooming of the Nationals at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
In the first game, Leal (8-2) made it through six innings scoreless innings before allowing the first two men to reach in the seventh inning. Working with a 4-0 lead, the Pelicans (32-26) bullpen allowed three runs to score before Ryan McNeil entered to seal the save by retiring the final two batters.
In all, Leal allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked one. The right-hander from Venezuela became the first pitcher in the Carolina League to reach eight wins.
The Pelicans got the scoring going right away in the first game against Nationals (29-27) starter Phillips Valdez (6-3). Three straight singles from Rashad Crawford, Gleyber Torres and Ian Happ put Myrtle Beach on the board, with Happ recording an RBI in his seventh straight game. Three batters later, Jeffrey Baez singled to score Torres and give the Birds a 2-0 lead.
With the same score in the bottom of the third, Torres singled and stole second base before Jason Vosler drove him in with a base hit to give the Pelicans a 3-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the sixth, Potomac reliever Matthew Spann walked the first two batters before Crawford drove in Erick Castillo to extend the Birds' lead to 4-0.
As mentioned above, Pelicans bullpen bent but didn't break in the seventh as Myrtle Beach took the first game 4-3.
In game two, Myrtle Beach starter Jeremy Null (2-2) ran into trouble but then settled down. In the top of the first, he allowed a one-out single to the Nationals' Bryan Mejia, before Jose Marmolejos hit a home run down the line in left to give Potomac a 2-0 lead.
Null retired 15 of the next 16 batters to keep the Nationals at bay through six innings.
After Potomac starter Dakota Bacus worked three hitless innings, he walked Torres to begin the bottom of the fourth. The next batter was Happ, who doubled to right to push Torres to third. Yasiel Balaguert followed and delivered a two-run single down the left field line to tie the game at two.
In a 2-2 game in the bottom of the fifth, Daniel Lockhart reached on an infield single against Potomac reliever Robert Orlan (2-1) before being bunted to second. Two batters later, Crawford singled to right to plate Lockhart and give the Pelicans their first lead of the game.
After Null put up another zero in the sixth, Myrtle Beach got a one-out single from Gioskar Amaya. After a ground out advanced Amaya to second, Trey Martin came through with a single up the middle to give the Pelicans a 4-2 advantage.
With Null taking the mound for the seventh, Nationals third baseman Drew Ward went out to left-center for a solo home run to cut the Myrtle Beach lead to 4-3. Null then fanned two consecutive batters to get the Pelicans one out away from a win. Drew Vettleson followed for Potomac and connected on a double to the gap to get the tying run into scoring position. With two outs, the Pelicans turned to Jordan Minch, who got Matt Reistetter to fly out to end the game and earn his second save.
Tuesday's wins mark the first four-game sweep for the Pelicans in 2016. Crawford finished the series 7-for-15 with four runs scored and five RBIs. Balaguert slugged two home runs and drove in eight runs in the four games.