MYRTLE BEACH — The Pelicans, who are coming off a 1-6 slide in their final road trip, were hoping to turn things around on Saturday before the Carolina League Playoffs begin.
They did just that.
Trailing 2-0, the Pelicans scored three runs in a two-inning span to come from behind and take down the Hillcats 3-2 in the first game of their final series of the regular season at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
The comeback started in the fourth inning when first baseman Brett Nicholas, who leads all Pelicans with 63 runs batted-in, drove home shortstop Hanser Alberto from first base on a two-out double in the fourth to cut Myrtle Beach’s deficit to one run. Center fielder Teodoro Martinez hit the go-ahead two-run double that scored Jeremy Williams and Santiago Chirino to put the Pelicans ahead 3-2.
After the second inning, when Lynchburg’s Adam Milligan belted a two-run homerun off Pelicans starter Joe Van Meter, Myrtle Beach didn’t give up another run to the Hillcats.
Van Meter picked up the win as he surrendered two earned runs on only three hits in five innings. Van Meter struck out five, but walked two and hit three batters. He owns a 2.06 ERA.
Myrtle Beach used four pitchers out of the bullpen. Daniel Lopez tossed 12/3 scoreless innings, Jimmy Reyes tossed a scoreless inning, and Phil Klein struck out the only batter he faced to end the eighth inning.
Pelicans closer Ben Rowen, who was named the Carolina League Relief Pitcher of the Year, struck out two in a flawless ninth inning for his league-best 19th save of the season.
Hillcats starter Michael Lee received the loss as he gave up three runs in 41/3 innings.
Myrtle Beach will try to take Game 2 of the three-game series against Lynchburg on Sunday at 6:05 p.m.
The struggling Pelicans, who dropped nine of their final ten games on the road, will travel to Winston-Salem for a three-game series against the Dash in the first round of the playoffs starting Wednesday. Winston-Salem will host all three games because it won the first and second half of the Southern Division. Myrtle Beach hasn’t won a playoff series since 2008.
Contact MAX McKINNON at 444-1767.