SALEM, VA – Over nine contests with the Salem Red Sox this season, the Pelicans have learned an odd and seemingly illogical lesson: don't score first.
For the sixth time in those nine contests, and the fourth time in the first inning, the Pelicans took an early lead only to watch it disappear in another loss to the Red Sox, this time 6-4 on Saturday night at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
Things looked deceptively good for the Pelicans entering the latter stages of Saturday's third game of this four-game set as Myrtle Beach carried a lead into the bottom of the seventh inning in search of the third Carolina League win of phenom starter Julio Teheran's short Advanced Class A tenure. Myrtle Beach did not trail until the latter third of the game thanks to a pair of first inning runs scored by Dan Nelson and Travis Jones for a 2-0 lead before Salem even went to the bat rack. After the Pelicans added another in the fourth on an RBI Calvin Culver sacrifice fly that scored Cole Miles, it was Myrtle Beach's defense looming large.
The Red Sox cut the Pelicans lead to 3-2 on a two-run Ryan Lavarnway double in the bottom of the fifth. Lavarnway, who entered Saturday batting .471 in eight contests against the Pelicans, snapped a Teheran scoreless innings streak at 21.2 frames, by far the longest for any Pelicans pitcher this year. Teheran allowed more runs on the double than he had in his previous three Carolina League starts combined. With two gone and Lavarnway at second, Oscar Tejeda singled to right field, sending Lavarnway, the would-be tying run, around third base. Pelicans right-fielder Luis Sumoza fired a strike to home plate, however, and after Lavarnway bowled over Pelicans catcher Jesus Sucre, it was the Birds who had won the battle. When the dust cleared, it was Sucre holding the ball, and it was Myrtle Beach holding onto a slim 3-2 lead.
Teheran departed in line for the win after that, allowing both Red Sox runs on six hits over five innings of work. He followed up his franchise record-matching 14 strikeout performance on Memorial Day at Frederick with another four Ks and no walks. In the sixth, the Pelicans got a tally back when Sumoza singled and went station to station on a pair of walks before scoring on a Nelson RBI base hit.
Salem responded in the seventh, and the home team's rally started auspiciously. Ryan Dent's leadoff bunt back to the mound forced an off-balance throw from Pelicans reliever Chad Rodgers that went sailing up the right field line, and the inning snowballed from there. Dent went to second on the error and later scored, and four other Red Sox reached in the inning, two scoring on an Oscar Tejeda base hit to give Salem a 5-4 lead. Tejeda later scored, as well, and the Red Sox again used solid late-game relief to close out a 6-4 victory. Rodgers (1-5) took the loss while right-hander Blake Maxwell (2-0) picked up the victory while closing out the game for Salem.
Myrtle Beach will try to salvage a split of this four-game set and an above-.500 record on this seven-game road trip in Sunday's afternoon finale. Rocket Wheeler will send lefty Matt Crim (3-3, 3.94) to the hill for the last first-half matchup between these two teams this season with Sunday's first pitch slated for 4:05. 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.