Pelicans starter Andrew Faulkner has repeatedly got it done on the mound for Myrtle Beach this season.
Tuesday was no different.
Faulkner turned in a quality start and the Pelicans made quick work of Winston-Salem en route to an 8-1 victory at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
“I think I just had one of those days where I was able to throw everything for a strike,” Faulkner said. “I was pitching for contact. They’re a team that likes to swing early so that was about it; I just let the defense play. It was just a night to let them put it in play and that’s just how it turned out I guess.”
Faulker picked up the victory as he allowed just one earned run on three hits and one walk while striking out three in six innings. Faulkner (6-1) boasts a 2.35 ERA, second-best in the Carolina League, with 79 strikeouts and 26 walks in 84 1/3 innings this season.
“He’s got the ability. For him, he commands his fastball but he’s got to have something soft too and that’s something he’s working on,” Pelicans manager Joe Mikulik said. “He’s got his changeup, he had one changeup tonight up in the zone and they hit a double to right-center field, but there’s some balls that run in on right-handers that make it tough and he commands that. It’s very effective and it’s what he’s been doing lately. He’s been getting ahead in the count and attacking hitters.”
Faulkner has recently replaced his splitter with a changeup, a sign that he’s progressing as a starter.
“The higher-ups for us pretty much said they see me moving up as a starter. So it’s hard to throw a lot of innings and throw a splitter,” Faulkner said. “It’s easy to get hurt and stuff like that. So we removed [my splitter] and I’ve focused more on my curveball and slider and tonight it paid of a little bit. I guess it’s worked out so far.”
After giving up a run in the first inning, the Pelicans quickly put some runs on the board early. Jorge Alfaro and Preston Beck each hit RBI singles in the first inning and Hanser Alberto hit an RBI single and Nick Williams hit an RBI double in the second inning as the Pelicans took a 4-1 advantage.
“Obviously the offense has been really good,” Mikulik said. “Hitting the ball is something we've been doing well in the second half. We've picked it up from the first half. We’re swinging the bats well, [we’re getting] good situational hitting and running the bases real well.
“We have to keep putting the pedal to the medal and keep being aggressive. We do best when we can to get quality at-bats, which we did. We continued.”
Myrtle Beach added three more runs in the sixth inning as Alberto came through with an RBI double and Alfaro hit a two-run double to extend the Pelicans lead to 7-1. Williams hit an RBI single in the eighth inning to give Myrtle Beach an 8-1 advantage.
Meanwhile, after slugger Joey Gallo and pitcher Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez were promoted to Double-A Frisco and the Pelicans lost Royce Bolinger to injury, many thought the Pelicans offense would struggle.
That hasn’t been the case.
“Once we lost Gallo, Gonzalez and unfortunately [Bolinger] got hurt, everyone said it’s going to be harder and we’re not going to have as much offensive production and that really hasn’t shown at all,” Faulkner said. “They’re still putting up runs and playing great defense so there’s not much to complain about. It was nice, everybody came out swinging and it was good.”
With the victory, the Pelicans have won six straight over the Dash.
Myrtle Beach will look to continue its success against Winston-Salem in Game 2 Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.
“We’ve done pretty well against them,” Mikulik said. “But our expectations are to play good every day and for these guys to get better. For them to get better every day, be mentally prepared and to go out there and perform, that’s what I expect out of these guys.”
Contact MAX McKINNON at 626-0302.