LYNCHBURG, VA – A quiet offense, a steady rain, and a tough opposing bullpen all staring them squarely in the face with a chance to make up ground in a tight Carolina League Southern Division on the line, the Pelicans turned to one of their longest-tenured leaders to grab a big victory on a soggy Wednesday night in Lynchburg.
Cole Miles, starting at second base for the last three games for the first time since September of 2009, smacked a tiebreaking opposite-field single to plate two in the top of the ninth inning and then pulled off a 4-3 double play to end it in the bottom of the frame as the Pelicans took a 4-2 victory over the Hillcats at Calvin Falwell Field.
For the third time in as many days, the Pelicans got their offense rolling in the first inning against Lynchburg's starting staff. Wednesday, it was reigning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week Josh Ravin who allowed a pair of unearned runs on a Cody Johnson double in the opening frame. Johnson, drawn to the plate after a two-out error charged to Hillcats third baseman Shane Carlson kept the inning alive, crushed his two-bagger off the right-center field wall, scoring the first two runs of the night on his 22nd birthday for a 2-0 Myrtle Beach lead.
Pelicans starter Paul Clemens made his first start as a full-fledged member of the rotation and worked around traffic in the first three innings to keep the Hillcats off the scoreboard. In the fourth, after retiring the first two on groundballs, Clemens made his only mistake as Carlson crushed his second home run of 2010 to left-center to cut the Pelicans advantage in half at 2-1.
Clemens departed in line for the win after five innings, but the Hillcats took advantage of some shaky Pelicans defense to tie the game in the sixth. Neftali Soto reached on an error charged to Myrtle Beach third baseman Samuel Sime to open the inning, going to third on a Chris Richburg single behind him on a ball that glanced off a diving Sime's glove. On Kyle Day's subsequent 4-6-3 double-play ball, Soto scored to pull the Cats even at 2-2.
That's how things remained until the ninth. The Pelicans actually only put one baserunner on through the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, and Lynchburg did the same through their seventh and eighth. Then came Miles, a player who discovered last week he had played since the second game of the season on a fractured kneecap missed in earlier x-rays, to don his Superman cape.
Sime walked to leadoff the visitors' half of the final frame, and with one out, L.V. Ware shot a line drive off the glove of Lynchburg first baseman Soto. On the error, Sime went to third, and Ware cruised to second to set the stage for Miles who laced a single to left through the drawn-in infield, bringing both runners across. Lynchburg manager Pat Kelly lifted reliever Jeff Jeffords (2-1) immediately after the hit, but the damage was done.
In the bottom of the ninth after a one-out single by Carlson, his third hit of the night, Josh Fellhauer pushed a grounder to Miles at second. The 23-year-old waited for the ball and the baserunner, picking and tagging Carlson almost simultaneously as he chugged to second before throwing to first baseman Mike Jones to complete the game-ending twin-killing. Myrtle Beach reliever Angelo Paulino (3-4), who retired the Hillcats in order with a strikeout in the eighth, picked up the win. Luis Avilan (S, 8) earned the save with Miles's double-play.
Myrtle Beach can earn a series victory tomorrow with a win behind lefty Brett Oberholtzer (4-5, 4.43) who will go opposite Lynchburg's Justin Walker (2-1, 6.57). First pitch for the Thursday evening series finale is scheduled 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. Tickets are available now through the Pelicans Box Office at (843)918-6000 or (877)918-TIXX.