Pelicans rally falls short in ninth

Lynchburg, VA - From the Myrtle Beach Pelicans

LYNCHBURG, VA – A quick burst of offense in the top half of the first inning put Zeke Spruill and the Pelicans in the driver's seat early at Calvin Falwell Field. The Lynchburg Hillcats used the power of one to take game two back.

Lynchburg scored a run in the first inning to halve the Pelicans lead to 2-1 and then put one on the board in each of the fourth through seventh innings, holding off a late Myrtle Beach charge to claim a 5-3 victory Tuesday night in Virginia.

Three straight one-out base hits opened the offensive vault for the Birds in the first with a Cory Harrilchak single Gerry Rodriguez triple, and Mike Jones double adding up to a 2-0 Myrtle Beach lead. But in the bottom half, the Hillcats used a Brodie Greene single and a Zeke Spruill wild pitch to plate their first run on a two-out base knock by designated hitter Chris Richburg. Richburg, held hitless in Monday's series opener, later got the game tied with a leadoff walk and run scored in the fourth.

The Hillcats tacked on tallies in the fifth and sixth, the latter an unearned run that scored after a Spruill throwing error on a groundball back to the mound that should have ended the inning. In the seventh, Lynchburg extended its lead to 5-2 when Greene smacked his second single of the night, later scoring on another Richburg RBI base hit. Spruill (3-3) suffered his first defeat since July 14, that one also against the Hillcats, by surrendering all five Lynchburg tallies, four earned, on eight hits over seven innings. He walked three, matching that total with three strikeouts. His counterpart, right-hander Jordan Hotchkiss (10-4), became the fourth Carolina League pitcher with double-digit wins this season by settling down to pitch into the seventh without allowing another tally. Hotchkiss improved to a perfect 4-0 this year against Myrtle Beach.

With a three-run deficit facing them in the top of the ninth, the Pelicans went to work with back-to-back inning-starting singles from Cole Miles and Cory Harrilchak. After an RBI fielder's choice groundball by Gerry Rodriguez scored Miles to make it 5-3, hot-hitting first baseman Jones pulled a high chopper over the head of Lynchburg first baseman Neftali Soto and down the right field line. Rodriguez cruised to third base, but Jones, trying to stretch the base hit into a double, was gunned down at second by right fielder Cody Puckett. Though Jordan Kreke walked with two gone to put the tying run aboard, Lynchburg southpaw Donnie Joseph (S, 17) coaxed a groundout to second base from Cody Johnson to end the threat.

The Pelicans and Hillcats roll on with their third meeting of this four-game set Wednesday night at Lynchburg City Stadium. Myrtle Beach will send right-hander Paul Clemens (0-3, 3.48), newly inserted into the starting rotation, to oppose Lynchburg's Josh Ravin (1-0, 0.00) who earned Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors with his first Advanced Class A outing last week. First pitch for game three is slated for 7:05. The Pelicans return home on Friday, August 20 to welcome in the Kinston Indians for three games at BB&T Coastal Field.