From the Myrtle Beach Pelicans
MYRTLE BEACH, SC – An ever-resilient bunch of birds has taken up residency in Myrtle Beach this spring, as the Pelicans look to return to the top of the Carolina League South standings.
With two victories already in hand in 2010, Myrtle Beach looked to take their first series victory of the new season against Wilmington on Saturday night, and they accomplished the feat in yet another comeback effort, taking game three 6-4 from BB&T Coastal Field.
The first four innings flew by on the strength of starters Zeke Spruill and Chris Dwyer. Both pitchers conceded a run in the second and each ran into some trouble in the fourth, but each pitcher also avoided any major damage by stranding the bases loaded.
Spruill ended up allowing three runs in five innings of work in his Carolina League debut, striking out four and walking just one. However, he would not factor into the decision.
Each time the Blue Rocks would score a run in this contest, the Pelicans would counter in the bottom half of the frame with a run of their own, and this trend continued until the seventh inning when the Blue Rocks pulled ahead 4-3 on the strength of an unearned run off Pelicans reliever Chad Rodgers (1-0).
But the Pelicans responded with a bang, spurred on by a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" by WWE superstar Sergeant Slaughter, who must have struck fear into the hearts of the Blue Rocks pitching staff. With a runner on first and two down in the frame, Gerry Rodriguez blasted a two-strike pitch from James Thompson (0-1) into the right-center field gap for a double, scoring Shayne Moody to knot the game at four apiece.
Wilmington countered with lefty reliever Buddy Baumann to face left-hander Gerardo Avila to keep the game tied, but Avila laced a two-strike breaking ball into right field to score Rodriguez with the go-ahead run. A wild pitch scored Avila to run the score to 6-4, and that would be more than enough for Jaye Chapman to pick up his first save of the season.
Chapman, after striking out all three men he faced on Opening Day, whiffed four more Blue Rocks in two innings of work on Saturday, giving him seven strikeouts in nine possible outs in the 2010 campaign.
The Pelicans will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon as day baseball returns to BB&T Coastal Field. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 ET and it will be the first Family Sunday at the ballpark. Fans can play catch on the field before the game, and the first 1,000 patrons through the gates will receive a replica Pelicans bat presented by the Hampton Inn.
Right-hander Alex Caldera will toe the rubber for the Blue Rocks opposite J.J. Hoover for the Pelicans.