FREDERICK, MD – When he was drafted, the Baltimore Orioles never imagined that teams would intentionally walk a hitter to face former top prospect Billy Rowell. Through an enigmatic and confounding three-plus professional seasons, however, Rowell had not turned his initial high expectations into results. On Wednesday night at Harry Grove Stadium, he got an evening to feel good again for the Frederick Keys.
Rowell drove a walk-off single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the ninth inning to score Joe Mahoney and salvage the series finale for the Keys 3-2 over the Pelicans in Maryland.
Frederick had not led a game over the course of its four-game losing streak entering Wednesday night, but the Keys put that offensive anemia behind them early on Wednesday. Xavier Avery and Greg Miclat each scored first-inning runs against Pelicans starter Brett Oberholtzer before the Myrtle Beach southpaw settled down. Oberholtzer pitched out of a jam in the second inning, retiring Luis Bernardo and Kyle Hudson for back-to-back inning-ending outs with runners at second and third inning. Then, he went to work.
The southpaw from Saint Georges, Delaware retired the next 12 men he faced, not allowing a Key to reach base until one out in the sixth inning. In that sixth, his offense finally came alive.
The Pelicans put the first two men on in Cole Miles and Dan Nelson, and with one out, the pair scored on back-to-back singles by Mike Jones and Samuel Sime. Frederick starter Rick Zagone had only allowed two hits up until the sixth when he allowed four singles and saw his day end. Zagone exited with two gone in the inning and took a no-decision.
Oberholtzer departed after six innings with his second straight no-decision as well, having allowed two Keys runs, one earned, on five hits. The lefty struck out five but did not issue a walk for the third consecutive start.
It was a contest set to be decided by the bullpens, and it was in the ninth. Three nights after the Pelicans walked off via a bases-loaded Mike Jones single against Wilmington, it was the opponent's turn. Mahoney doubled on the first Chad Rodgers (1-3) pitch of the ninth to left field, and after a Ronnie Welty strikeout, the Pelicans elected to intentionally walk Miguel Abreu to set up a lefty-lefty matchup and a double-play possibility with Rowell at the dish. Rowell, however, did not oblige. His bouncing ball single went through the left side of the Pelicans infield, and Miles's throw home was not in time as Mahoney slid in safely. The loss is the Pelicans' fourth walk-off defeat of the season and their third in their last two road trips. Frederick's victory made a winner out of reliever Jose Diaz (2-0).
Myrtle Beach will complete its seven-game swing with four weekend contests against the Salem Red Sox at Salem Memorial Ballpark Thursday through Sunday. The Birds send reigning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week J.J. Hoover (2-3, 3.58) to the hill for Thursday's series opener against lefty Fabian Wiliamson (4-3, 3.80) for Salem. First pitch for the opener is set for 7:05 PM. The Pelicans return to Myrtle Beach on Monday, June 7 for the first of three against the Winston-Salem Dash. The first game of the series will be another installment of Kids Eat Free Monday in which all kids ages 12 and under receive a coupon for a free hot dog, chips, and a drink with the purchase of a game ticket.
For tickets, contact the Pelicans box office at (843) 918-6000 or (877) 918-TIXX or visit the Tickets page at MyrtleBeachPelicans.com.