Five walks in the first had things looking bleak for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, but seven runs in the fourth made the slow start a distant memory.
Myrtle Beach sent 11 batters to the plate in the game-deciding inning, all eight runs earned, and the Pelicans went on to defeat the Salem Red Sox 12-6 in the first of a three-game set at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
"We just didn't throw strikes today," coach Joe Mikulik said. "We've been good at throwing strikes really well all year, but it's just one of those days. I've got to make some adjustments, but our offense came through really well tonight."
The Pelicans (33-17) trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, but catcher Jorge Alfaro who ended the game 5-for-5 with four RBIs started the inning out with a single, and the rest of the lineup stepped up behind him. First baseman David Lyon followed with a single before Hanser Alberto blooped a single to right field to load the bases and Chris Garia was hit in the foot to force in a run, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
"I just tried to hit the ball middle to the other way, it helped me out to see breaking balls," said Alfaro, who had a double, a triple and three singles. "It's just simple, try to let the ball come to me."
Then, with the the bases still loaded, Nick Williams stepped up to the plate after sitting out the past two games with an injury; he wasn't there for long. The designated hitter saw just one pitch, one he turned on and sent over the left fielder's head for a three-run double.
"I haven't seen live pitching in a couple days, but it was awesome, I just wanted to get my pitch. I just said 'if it's a strike I'm gonna hit it no matter where it is,'" said Williams, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest in the Carolina League this season.
"That's my specialty in this game, hitting. I compete, I battle that's my big thing, just being consistent as a hitter."
Bostick, Preston Beck and Alfaro added RBIs in the inning. Lyon followed up with a home run in the fifth and Alfaro added a three-run triple in the sixth to help end the series' trend. The road team had won all eight games between the teams this season. The Red Sox (26-24) swept Myrtle Beach in a four-game set to open the season, then the Pelicans returned the favor with a four-game sweep of Salem in April.
The one-sided result was one that didn't look promising for the Pelicans early after starter Victor Payano (3-2) began the game with two quick outs, then lost the zone entirely. He walked five straight, throwing 17-of-18 pitches for balls, but escaped with just two runs allowed. He went four innings, allowing a home run to Mario Martinez in the third, but took his sixth no decision of the season.
"He almost didn't get through the first," Mikulik said of Payano, "and he bounced back and got through and got us through four innings, which is what we needed."
Sam Stafford (2-1) pitched three scoreless innings to earn the win in relief, while starter Cory Litrell (3-2) took the loss for Salem.
Myrtle Beach's Cody Buckel allowed a three-run triple to Reed Gragnani in the eighth inning after walking the bases loaded, then finished out the ninth, striking out five in total.
The win increased the Pelicans' lead in the South Division of the Carolina League to 6.5 games over the Red Sox. The second game starts at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday with Simon Mercedes (2-4, 4.15) facing off against Luis Parra (4-3, 4.44).
"It's really nice to win the first one, it's day-by-day obviously," Mikulik said. "We've got to go day by day and be ready for them tomorrow."
Notes: Before Tuesday's game the Pelicans promoted outfielder Chris Grayson to the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. To replace him, the Pelicans promoted Jamie Jarmon from extended spring training. Jarmon pinch hit for Williams in the seventh inning, striking out on three pitches in his only plate appearance. Myrtle Beach owns the best record in the Carolina League (33 wins), and is on pace to set a new high for franchise wins in the first half (45 in 2008).