MYRTLE BEACH — Pelicans starter Randol Rojas and Hillcats starter Aaron Northcraft were both battling for their 10th win of the season on Sunday.
Rojas couldn’t get it done.
Dan Brewer and Braeden Schlehuber each hit two-run doubles off Rojas, propelling Lynchburg to an 8-3 victory over Myrtle Beach at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
Rojas (9-6) received the loss as he gave up seven earned runs on nine hits and one walk, while striking out four in five innings.
“Tonight was a good opportunity to go ahead win this series,” Pelicans manager Jason Wood said. “But we’ll take it for what it was. Rojas pitched fairly well, I think he made some good pitches but did make some mistakes and it ended up costing him. We were a little bit flat tonight on defense and they took advantage of that.
“I think we had our opportunities,” he added. “We had a lot of guys get on-base and had opportunities with runners in scoring position. We had [Northcraft] on the ropes and we weren’t able to take advantage and that cost us. We two [runs] out of it and we had an opportunity to have a big inning but we couldn’t do it tonight.”
Nonetheless, Wood is confident in Rojas as the postseason nears. Myrtle Beach will play a best-of-three series against Winston-Salem in the first round of the Carolina League playoffs beginning Wednesday.
“Rojas has been a big part of this team all year,” Wood said. “He’s done a really good job. He’s kind of a quiet assassin because he doesn’t say a whole lot but goes out there and gives you quality starts, but this wasn’t one of them. He’s a guy that will correct his mistakes and hopefully we’ll see some good things out of him in the postseason.”
On the other hand, Northcraft (10-11) picked up the win in a quality start. Northcraft surrendered three earned runs on five hits in six innings.
“I think we had a chance to take advantage of some of the mistakes he made and we weren’t able to do that,” Wood said. “He pitched well enough to keep him in the game and they did the right thing by taking him out with the lead. I have to give him credit.”
Center fielder Teodoro Martinez started off the first inning with a solo home run to left field that gave the Pelicans a 1-0 advantage. Vinny DiFazio was hit by a pitch, and Martinez scored to tie the game at two in the bottom of the third. Then Chris Grayson drove home Tomas Telis on a groundout to give the Pelicans a 3-2 lead, but that’s when things went downhill for Myrtle Beach.
The Hillcats tied the game at 3 when Edward Salcedo hit a leadoff home run during the top of the fourth. Brewer hit a two-run double to give Lynchburg a 5-3 lead, and Schlehuber hit a two-run ground-rule double with two outs to extend the Hillcats’ lead to 7-3. David Rohm drove in Salcedo on a single in the top of the eighth to give Lynchburg a five-run cushion.
The series is tied, and the Pelicans will try to take down the Hillcats on Monday at 6:05 p.m. in the final game of the regular season.
“I think it’s very important,” Wood said of gaining momentum before the playoffs. “It’s the last game of the regular season so there’s still something to play for. Hopefully we can change those results we’ve had as of late on the road and win that series in Winston-Salem and bring it back home for the fans here in Myrtle Beach.”
Contact MAX McKINNON at 626-0284.