Pelicans outduel Lynchburg Hillcats in pitchers’ duel
The Hillcats (13-15), plated an unearned run in the eighth inning and had pinch-hitter Emmanuel Tapia at the plate with a runner on first in the ninth, but the Pelicans (12-17) held on to force a rubber game on Sunday.
Birds starter Matt Swarmer (Win, 3-2), retired 16 of 18 batters at one point, and finished the night with seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings. He did not allow a walk on the night and lowered his ERA to 1.32 on the season.
Sam Hentges (Loss, 2-1) also tallied seven strikeouts in his start, but battled some command issues in the middle innings, resulting in a high pitch count, as he exited before recording an out in the fifth.
Jhonny Pereda got the scoring started for Myrtle Beach in the fourth, leading off the inning with a single to center. Wladimir Galindo followed with a single, and then with two outs, Austin Upshaw laced an RBI single back up the middle to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.
The Pelicans added a run an inning later. Andruw Monasterio led off the fifth with a double to left-center, and was brought home two batters later on a Pereda single through the right side to make it 2-0.
The Hillcats bullpen held the Pelicans in check following Hentges’ exit. Billy Strode and Anderson Polanco each fired two scoreless innings, sandwiched around one scoreless from Luis Jimenez. The bullpen combined to record five strikeouts, while yielding just three hits.
The Hillcats cut the deficit in half in the eighth inning, as Erlin Cerda led off the frame with a double. With one out, Alexis Pantoja hit a ground ball to second, which Monasterio bobbled and threw away, allowing Cerda to score all the way from second.
In the ninth, Anthony Miller singled to right-center with two outs bringing the go ahead run to the plate. Rougie Odor turned to Tapia for his first pinch-hit at-bat of the season, but Pelican reliever Tyler Peyton retired Tapia with a strikeout to preserve Myrtle Beach’s 2-1 win.
Mitch Longo singled to lead off the home half of the first inning for Lynchburg, extending his hitting streak to a league-best 18 games. He has reached base is all 24 games he has played this season.
The loss sets up a rubber game on Sunday at 2 p.m. when Pelicans lefty Jose Paulino (0-3, 10.59) will face off with Hillcats right-hander Zach Plesac (1-2, 5.81).
It’s Sandlot Sunday at City Stadium, featuring post-game kids run the bases, catch in the outfield, and wiffle ball.
Max Gun and Matt Present will be on the air at 1:50 p.m. with the Hillcats pregame show on TuneIn Radio and Radio434.
For tickets and more information visit Lynchburg-hillcats.com, the City Stadium Box Office, or call 434-528-1144.