Against the Hillcats, the strikeouts weren't piling up for the top pitching prospect in the Braves organization, but he pitched to his defense, allowing just four hits in six shutout innings en route to earning his first Carolina League victory. The Columbian righty walked a pair and struck out two before yielding to the Birds' bullpen.
The Pelicans got some early offense in the bottom of the first inning when newcomer Dan Nelson launched his first home run as a Pelican, a solo shot off the light tower in right-center field to give the home team a 1-0 advantage. It was the fourth home run of the year surrendered by Hillcat starter Mark Serrano (2-2), who ended up tossing seven innings and striking out seven.
The Birds scratched out another run in the bottom of the fifth inning as Luis Sumoza, who blasted a leadoff double off the right-center field wall, came around to score on a bloop single to left by Calvin Culver to give the Pelicans their all-important second run.
That run turned out to be the difference when the Hillcats tallied a run in the top of the eighth off reliever Paul Clemens as Jose Gualdron scampered home on a wild pitch. With the tying run on second base and two down in the inning, Rocket Wheeler called on Benino Pruneda to tiptoe out of danger. Pruneda accepted the challenge, retiring Kyle Day on one pitch to end the inning and setting down the Hillcats 1-2-3 in the ninth to lock down his third save of the season.
With the victory on Wednesday, the Pelicans now move to a respectable 10-10 when hitting a home run this season, compared to a 4-22 mark when not.
These two teams will be back at BB&T Coastal Field for the rubber matchup on Thursday evening at 7:05 p.m.