After losing their first six games at home, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are finding their groove.
The Pelicans have now won three straight at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. And two of those victories came on Saturday.
Following a 4-3 victory over Wilmington in Game 1, the Pelicans cruised to a 7-2 win over the Blue Rocks in Game 2 to complete a doubleheader sweep.
“Pitching and situational hitting is what got it done for us today,” Pelicans right fielder Royce Bolinger said. “We pitched well and hit when we needed to... We kind of got off to a rocky start at the beginning and we found a groove on the road and it’s carrying over here. We’re just playing well right now.”
Said Pelicans manager Joe Mikulik: “These guys are just playing good. We’re getting some quality pitching out of our bullpen, picking us up. If there’s any falters with our starters, our bullpen is coming in and closing it out. We’ve had some great plate appearances; our offense is swinging the bat well. Timely hitting. We’re taking advantage of some things we’ve been working on. Every day it’s a challenge but they’re doing what they need to do.”
Myrtle Beach starter Victor Payano got off to a rocky start in Game 2, walking his first four batters to give up one run in the first inning but that was all he would surrender in the first inning. Payano went 3 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run on three hits and five walks and struck out six for a no-decision.
“Obviously in the first inning it wasn’t what we were looking for,” Mikulik said of Payano’s start. “But he made adjustments late. We just had to take him out because of his pitch count; he threw 30-something pitches in the first inning and after that he settled down and utilized all of his pitches to keep them off-balance. He threw the ball well late and that’s something we’ve been trying to work on with him. He has all the potential in the world; he’s got to command his pitches better and he showed that late and that’s a great sign.”
Bolinger paced the offense in Game 2, going 2-for-2 with five RBIs. Bolinger hit a two-RBI double in the third inning to give the Pelicans a 3-1 lead and also hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Pelicans a 6-1 advantage.
“Bolinger had some big at-bats. The double to right field and the home run; those are big at-bats,” Mikulik said. “We had a lot of hits from other guys it’s really a team effort. It’s not just one guy doing it, everyone is pitching in and doing their part. That’s what it’s going to take to win some ballgames.”
Said Bolinger: “I was just looking for a good fastball to hit and and I ran into it. It felt pretty good.”
Pelicans take down Wilmington in Game 1
When you get out to a three-run lead in the first inning, it usually holds up.
Unfortunately for Wilmington, that wasn’t the case.
The Pelicans countered the Blue Rocks’ three-run first inning with three runs of their own en route to a 4-3 victory in Game 1.
“One thing about this club, they’re not going to give up,” Mikiluk said. “Regardless of what the situation is, we’re going to get up there and have some quality at-bats and try to chip away and we did early. We got back three runs and then later on we closed it out.”
Jorge Alfaro started the scoring with an RBI single, and Preston Beck hit a two-RBI double to tie the game at 3.
Then, Chris Bostick hit an RBI single in the fifth inning to give Myrtle Beach a 4-3 advantage and cruised from there.”
Starter Luis Parra got his third victory in a row after allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.
“Luis is commanding his fastball and keeping them off-balance,” Mikiluk said. “I think he did a good job. He had a few [miscues] and that was unfortunate but he kept us in the ballgame and that was big.”
The Pelicans can finish off a sweep of Wilmington on Sunday as the teams play at 6 p.m.
“I expect these guys to play the same and have some energy,” Mikiluk said. “We just need to do the best we can.”
Bolinger has his sights set on a ring.
“We’re really close. We have a lot of good guys in this clubhouse,” he said. “We’re clicking and have great chemistry. Our goal is to definitely win a championship. We fell short last year but hopefully this year we can get it done.”
• Pelicans starter Cody Buckel was placed on the 7-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain.
• Pelicans righty reliever Ryan Harvey was placed on the 7-day disabled list with left calf tightness.
• Myrtle Beach received left-handed pitcher Will Lamb and righty reliever Ryan Bores from extended spring training.
Contact MAX MCKINNON at 626-0302.