WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – For game one of the first doubleheader in BB&T Ballpark history, an unknowing observer could have been easily convinced that it was the Myrtle Beach Pelicans who owned one of the best records in Minor League Baseball and not the host Winston-Salem Dash.
That's just how good the Pelicans looked in the first of their Wednesday twinbill.
Myrtle Beach dominated game one from literally the first man to the plate in the top of the opening inning and rode Randall Delgado's seven shutout innings to a 5-0 win over the Dash in afternoon contest, the Pelicans' first over Winston-Salem in 2010.
As is so often the case, it was leadoff man Cole Miles setting the tone in the early game. Like Tuesday night, Miles and Amadeo Zazueta led off the top of the first inning with back-to-back singles for the Pelicans. Unlike Tuesday night, Myrtle Beach took advantage of its early baserunners on this day.
An Ozzie Lewis fielding error in left field on Zazueta's single put the pair at second and third, and Mike Daniel drove home the game's first run with an RBI groundout from the three hole. Cleanup man Gerry Rodriguez then did just that with one out, scoring Zazueta with a single to left field to give Myrtle Beach an early 2-0 advantage.
Pelicans fans are gradually growing to know that when Delgado is on the mound, a 2-0 advantage is often enough. Such was the case Wednesday as the Panamanian rebounded from his shortest outing five days ago to control the best-hitting offense in all of professional affiliated baseball.
Over seven shutout innings, the right-hander showed the form that made him the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Week from May 3-9, limiting the Dash, a team that entered Wednesday afternoon with a .315 team batting average, to three hits, all singles. Delgado struck out five, which actually matched a season low, and didn't issue his first and only walk until one out in the seventh. He kicked off his start with a swinging strikeout of the Carolina League's leading hitter, Brandon Short, and ended it with a 6-4-3 double-play ball from Ozzie Lewis to end the seventh.
In between, he kept Dash hitters off balance and faced the minimum in the first, second, fourth, fifth, and seventh. Delgado (2-3) dropped his staff-best ERA to 2.58 with the victory. The shutout defeat is just Winston-Salem's second of the year and first since the second night of the season when the Dash fell to Nick Hagadone and the Kinston Indians by the same score.
Delgado's offense wouldn't keep him on a 2-0 leash, however. Rodriguez led off the fourth inning with a double and was onboard when Gerardo Avila belted his seventh home run of the season to right field to extend the Myrtle Beach lead to 4-0.
In the eighth, it was Avila who reached with a leadoff single and then went to second and scored on back-to-back singles by Matt Kennelly and Luis Sumoza for Myrtle Beach's fifth run.
With the insurance in hand, relievers Chad Rodgers and Yeliar Castro each pitched scoreless innings of relief to close out the decision.
The two clubs have now traded shutouts in the first two games of this four-game set, and Wednesday afternoon's affair marks the Pelicans' first shutout victory of the season. The Birds had lost six shutout affairs including Tuesday's 2-0 defeat in the series opener.
Winston-Salem right-hander Terry Doyle (0-1) took the loss despite throwing well over six innings. He limited the Pelicans to four runs, three earned, on seven hits over six innings.
The Pelicans and Dash will hook up for the second nine-inning game of this doubleheader tonight at 7 p.m. In the nightcap, highly touted Myrtle Beach right-hander Julio Teheran, the top pitching prospect in the Braves system, makes his Advanced Class A debut for the Pelicans after a strong start to his 2010 in Class A Rome.
In seven starts for the Rome Braves, Teheran went 2-2 with a microscopic 1.14 ERA, a 0.84 WHIP, a .168 opponents' batting average against, and 45 strikeouts. Teheran will face Dash reliever-turned-spot-starter Dylan Axelrod. Winston-Salem's righty has made eight relief appearances this year and has gone 2-1 with a 2.60 earned run average.
The Pelicans return to the Grand Strand on May 25 for the first of a six-game homestand with the Lynchburg Hillcats and Wilmington Blue Rocks. The three-game set against Lynchburg opens up with Dollar Hot Dog Night on the 25th. Fans can enjoy $1 dogs all night long Tuesday along with the next installment of the Pelicans Team Tuesday Poster Series.
For tickets, contact the Pelicans box office at (843) 918-6000 or (877) 918-TIXX or by visiting the Tickets page at MyrtleBeachPelicans.com.