From the Myrtle Beach Pelicans
MYRTLE BEACH, SC- About to set out on their penultimate road trip of the season, the Pelicans needed some momentum to keep their spirits high in the dog days of summer. In the finale of their longest homestand of the season, the Pelicans received another excellent start from Zeke Spruill and three more home runs to hold off the Frederick Keys by the score of 8-4, taking the series from the Northern Division first half champions.
It all started with Spruill on the hill as the right-hander continued his sterling run of success in the season's second half, hurling yet another quality start, one outing after a seven-inning complete game victory last Saturday. In all, the sinkerballer surrendered just three runs in six innings with five strikeouts and no walks to pick up his third win of the year.
The Keys drew first blood against Spruill in the top of the first when All-Star Ronnie Welty demolished a Spruill offering over the scoreboard in left center field for his 13th round tripper of the year, making it a 1-0 Keys lead.
However, when the Keys have plated runs this series, the Pelicans have responded quickly. It didn't take long for the Birds to get on the board as Luis Sumoza blasted an RBI double to right center field, scoring Mike Jones from first base to knot the game at one in the bottom of the second.
The following inning, Jordan Kreke gave the Pelicans a 2-1 lead as the second baseman knocked his second home run of the season into the left field bleachers to continue the recent power surge for the homestanding Pelicans.
Another run scored for the Birds on a Pedro Florimon error in the fifth, and the Birds put some distance between themselves and the Keys with two more in the sixth. With one down, Matt Kennelly deposited a Nate Nery pitch over the Budweiser Thirst Inning Deck, his third of the year, and Jordan Kreke knocked in another on a ground ball to make it a 5-1 Pelican lead.
The Comeback Keys wouldn't quit, however, as the visitors plated three more in the top of the seventh inning with RBI base knocks from L.J. Hoes, Miguel Abreu, and Buck Britton to trim the Pelicans' lead to one at 6-5.
But the Birds matched the Keys with three runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh inning. Slugger Mike Jones continued his sizzling stretch at the plate, blasting a tape-measure home run off the roof of the clubhouse in right field to get one of the runs back. In all, the Pelicans sent nine men to the plate in the inning, swinging momentum back in their direction by virtue of an RBI single from L.V. Ware and a run-scoring wild pitch from Josh Dowdy. Once Cody Johnson came around to score the Birds' eighth run of the game, the score stood at 8-4, and the Pelicans did not look back.
Lefty Chad Rodgers faced just one batter over the minimum in the final two innings of work, including a hammer curveball for a called strike three to Billy Rowell to end the ballgame and give the Pelicans the series victory over Frederick.
The Birds ended their season series with an even 10-10 record against the Frederick ballclub.
With Winston-Salem's cancellation in Wilmington, and Kinston's doubleheader sweep of Salem, the Pelicans moved into a virtual first place tie with the Red Sox and the Dash in the Southern Division.
The Pelicans will board the bus tonight and take I-95 up to Woodbridge, VA for their final three-game set with the Potomac Nationals from Pfitzner Stadium.