Winston-Salem, NC - From the Myrtle Beach Pelicans
WINSTON-SALEM, NC – In baseball terms, "heartbreaking" doesn't even begin to describe it. 52 combined strikeouts in a game that didn't see its first walk for one staff until the 14th inning. Almost a complete lack of run production from both offenses except for when the deadlock was finally broken—twice—and then restored again in extras. The worst team in the Carolina League taking the best team in the circuit to the wire again and again and again. And again, it was the Pelicans coming up shorthanded Wednesday night at BB&T Ballpark.
In the second-longest game in Carolina League history, and the longest game in Pelicans history, Myrtle Beach fell 4-3 by virtue of a walk-off Chase Blackwood single in the bottom of the 20th inning to complete a split of a Wednesday doubleheader in Winston-Salem.
Long before the second game of Wednesday's twinbill spilled over into Thursday morning, there was a seemingly normal game at hand, and Pelicans starter Julio Teheran was its centerpiece star. Making his Advanced Class A debut, the top pitching prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization lived up to the hype and more. Over seven innings against the most potent offense in all of professional affiliated baseball, Teheran lit up the Triad night. The 19-year-old hit 96 miles per hour with his fastball repeatedly and established a new career high with 12 strikeouts over his seven frames, the lone blemish on his night coming when Kyle Shelton cranked his first home run of the season to stake the Dash to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
The Pelicans responded quickly with an RBI Amadeo Zazueta double scoring Cole Miles in the top of the fourth to even the score at one, and that's how things would stay for seven and a half more innings. It took until the 12th, a combined five pitchers later, for the Dash and Pelicans to break their 1-1 tie, and in that inning, it was Myrtle Beach breaking through first. With Gerry Rodriguez on second base and two outs, Samuel Sime cranked a double down the left field line to give the Pelicans their first lead of the nightcap at 2-1. It would not, however, last long. Reliever Angelo Paulino (BS, 1) surrendered a leadoff home run to Dash designated hitter Ozzie Lewis, and the stalemate resumed at 2-2.
Two innings later, again it was the Pelicans surging to the advantage when Jesus Sucre drove in Rodriguez to put his club up 3-2 in the 14th. Again, it would not last long. With Myrtle Beach a strike away from the victory, Goose Creek, South Carolina native Justin Greene laced a two-out, full-count, game-tying single to left field, again off of Paulino, to score Shelton and level the score again.
The standoff lasted deep into the night. When it passed midnight, it entered its fifth hour. When it passed the conclusion of the nineteenth, it became both the longest game in Myrtle Beach and Winston-Salem franchise histories and became the first game in over 40 years to go that long in the Carolina League.
In the 20th, the Dash mercifully ended the marathon. Back-to-back one-out singles by Lewis and Shelton against Pelicans reliever David Francis (0-2) eventually translated to an RBI base hit by Chase Blackwood for the Winston-Salem victory. The Dash dugout exploded and mobbed Blackwood as he came around first base to secure the win.
In those "only in baseball" coincidences so often found in such games, the win in this contest went to Shelton (1-0) who played second base, left field, and pitched a scoreless 20th for the Dash and homered to bring in Winston's first run in the second inning. Blackwood's first hit of the night came in his ninth at-bat with an 0-for-8, 6 K stat line entering his final trip to the plate. Twelve combined pitchers struck out 52 combined batters with 29 of those Ks credited to the Myrtle Beach staff. Two Pelicans pitchers posted or tied career highs for longest relief appearances (Paul Clemens and Tyrelle Harris who each threw four scoreless innings).
The Pelicans and Dash missed tying the longest game in Carolina League history by one out. On July 5, 1998, the Wilmington Blue Rocks beat the Danville 97s 3-2 in 21 innings. The last, and only other, 20-inning game in league history, according to the 2010 Carolina League Media Guide & Record Book was played by the Tidewater Tides and Kinston Eagles to a 5-5 tie on April 18, 1967. The longest game in Pelicans history prior to Wednesday night came, coincidentally enough, against Winston-Salem in 2001 when the Birds pulled out a 3-2 win over the club known then as the Warthogs on July 24.
Myrtle Beach looks to secure a series split in Thursday's series finale after having lost two of the first three in this set by a combined three runs at BB&T Ballpark. Lefty Brett Oberholtzer (1-3, 7.52) goes against Dash righty Nevin Griffith (4-0, 2.79) with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM.
The Pelicans return to the Grand Strand on Tuesday, 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.