MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Dash end Myrtle Beach Pelicans season with rout

ablondin@thesunnews.comSeptember 7, 2012 

— Home wasn’t so sweet for Myrtle Beach Pelicans starter Nick McBride on Friday night, and the Pelicans fittingly hit the end of the road on the road.

The Winston-Salem Dash battered their hometown kid at BB&T Ballpark and knocked the Pelicans from the Carolina League playoffs with a resounding 9-0 win.

The Dash won the Southern Division Championship Series two games to one to advance to the Mills Cup championship series against Lynchburg.

The Pelicans ended the season dropping eight of their final 10 road games, including the playoffs.

“Something that hasn’t let us down all year has been our pitching, and I think the last two nights we struggled a little bit on the mound,” said Pelicans manager Jason Wood, who has led the team to the playoffs in his first two seasons. “Our pitching was a little bit suspect the last two nights and I think it really hurt us against a good hitting club like this. They proved to be the best.”

Myrtle Beach was trying to reach the Mills Cup championship series for the first time since 2008, and was hoping to claim its first league title since it won back-to-back in the franchise’s first two seasons in 1999-2000.

Winston-Salem, which has 11 Carolina League titles, last reached the final in 2010, losing to Potomac. The Dash have the best record in minor league baseball at 89-52-1, while the Pelicans complete the season 75-67 with their second consecutive first-round playoff exit after their sixth playoff berth.

McBride, 21, grew up about 10 miles from BB&T Ballpark in Lewisville, N.C., and ran around the bases as a youngster with little league teammates at the franchise’s former stadium, Ernie Shore Field.

The right-hander allowed seven earned runs, four hits, three walks and a hit batter while striking out one in 21/3 innings. He threw 27 balls among his 56 pitches, though he was around the plate his entire outing.

“I just didn’t find a good groove and was all over the place,” McBride said. “The Dash did what they were supposed to do. I was missing my spots and they were hitting it.”

McBride gave up four runs in the second inning on a single by Dan Black, hit batter, single by Kevan Smith that loaded the bases, run-scoring groundout, walk, and three-run triple by Keenyn Walker.

The Dash chased McBride with one out and the bases loaded in the third inning, after he allowed a double to Black and a pair of walks, and reliever Francisco Mendoza promptly gave up a no-doubt grand slam to left-center by Smith that put the Dash up 8-0.

A 2009 fifth-round pick of the Texas Rangers, McBride was 2-3 with a 3.76 earned-run average with the Pelicans during the regular season both as a starter and reliever.

“Really I felt like it calmed me down having my family and friends here,” McBride said. “I was relaxed a little more but I was just missing my spots and I paid for it. It was a rough night, that’s for sure. … You have to think about tonight and how it went, but tomorrow is a new day and that’s how you have to think when it’s baseball.”

Myrtle Beach mustered just four hits against Winston-Salem starter Chris Bassitt and two relievers, including two singles in the ninth inning.

“We got one big hit this whole series,” Wood said. “Other than that we didn’t do much offensively.”

The Dash offense was percolating entering Friday’s series finale. The Dash led the league in both average and runs scored, and they recorded nine hits in their final three at-bats in Thursday’s 5-3 win following a 4-1 loss in the series opener.

Carolina League MVP Dan Black, a switch-hitter who led the league in average at .315 and total bases by 23 with 241, was held hitless in eight at-bats in the first two games of the series, but broke out with a single and double in the first three innings to jumpstart the Dash offense.

Baseball continues in the next month for three Pelicans, including Wood. He has been selected to manage the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, and pitchers Jimmy Reyes and Ben Rowen are joining him.

The team will feature top prospects from the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Former Pelicans Leury Garcia and Chris McGuiness will also be on the team.

“Your top prospects are there, and it’s a good time because you get to interact with other organizations,” Wood said.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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