L.V Ware was the hero of the evening as his high chopping ground ball plated Matt Kennelly to set off the celebration and give the Pelicans a 4-3 victory over the Winston-Salem Dash.
It was true catharsis for a Pelicans team that has now won three straight ballgames from BB&T Coastal Field, including two straight walk-off wins after Mike Jones rapped an infield single to give the Birds a 5-4 victory against Wilmington back on May 30.
This time, instead of their opponents taking advantage of lapses in concentration, it was the Pelicans cashing in on their few opportunities. Though the Birds were outhit 12-7 by the powerful Dash lineup, they took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to a questionable fielding decision by Dash third baseman Jon Gilmore.
With a runner on first and two outs, Samuel Sime chopped a ground ball to Gilmore at third. The former Brave farmhand had plenty of time to throw out Sime at first, but instead tried to go to second base for the third out. The throw was low and late and Travis Jones slid in safely to prolong the inning. The next batter Jesus Sucre roped a double down the right field line to plate a pair and give the Birds an early lead.
Brett Oberholtzer got the nod on the mound for the Pelicans and pitched well before needing to leave the game in the sixth after his recurring problem with blisters on his pitching hand popped up again. In the sixth, Oberholtzer allowed a leadoff triple to Gilmore and a two-run home run from slugger Seth Loman to tie the game at two.
Loman would end the day a double shy of the cycle, reaching base four of his five plate appearances.
The Pelicans regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Mike Jones stayed scorching at the plate, lacing a run-scoring double to the left center field gap, plating Dan Nelson with the team's third run.
Another leadoff triple, this time from Loman, knotted the game at three in the eighth against Luis Avilan, but Benino Pruneda and Yeliar Castro (3-2) would come in to quell a promising Dash rally. Castro struck out Ozzie Lewis with two men on in the top of the ninth to set the stage for the fastest member of the Pelicans lineup.
For the Dash, it was Gilmore again whose defense got him into hot water in the ninth. After a Sucre pop out to lead off the frame, Matt Kennelly chopped a grounder to Gilmore who short-armed the throw to first, skipping away from Loman to allow Kennelly to reach second with just one out. Luis Sumoza walked on four pitches with ball four ending up at the backstop, allowing Kennelly to move up 90 feet. Ware didn't wait long to attack Dash reliever Leroy Hunt (0-3) as the speedster knocked a high chopper to the shortstop Eduardo Escobar whose throw home was too late to nab the sliding Kennelly, giving the Birds a 4-3 win.
L.V. would make his teammates chase after him but eventually relented and allowed himself to be mobbed in shallow left field by his exuberant teammates.
The Pelicans and Dash will play tomorrow at 7:05 ET as the Birds look to win a series from the team with the best record in affiliated baseball. For game two of this three-game set, Deuce won't be the only four-legged creature coming through the gates of BB&T Coastal Field as it will be Bark at the Park Day presented by Banfield, the Pet Hospital! All dogs are welcome to sit and watch the game with their owners from the Budweiser Thirst Inning Deck! It will also be another installment of the Pelicans Poster Series presented by emediagroup coastal. The first 1,000 fans into the ballpark will receive a collectable poster featuring a member of the Pelicans roster!
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