Having won the first two games of a four-game series against Lynchburg at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, Myrtle Beach Pelicans manager Joe Mikulik decided to roll the dice with a diminished lineup Sunday.
The dice came up craps.
The Pelicans played without two of the Texas Rangers’ top prospects in catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Nick Williams and dropped a 7-1 decision to the Hillcats.
Alfaro was playing Sunday – along with first-half Pelican Joey Gallo – in the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game at Target Field in Minneapolis, where he was 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Gallo hit a tape-measure home run in the game.
Williams, who is second in batting in the Carolina League with a .323 average, received a day of rest.
“I wanted to give him a day,” Mikulik said. “Tomorrow will be 26 [days of games] in a row for us. He’s played a lot in a row. I’m trying to give guys a little breather so they can save some energy for the stretch.”
Centerfielder Chris Garia got the Pelicans off to a promising start with his third home run of the season in the bottom of the first. He deposited the fourth pitch thrown by Lynchburg lefthander Daniel Watts six rows deep in the left field bleachers.
But the Pelicans were unable to plate another run despite collecting 10 hits, leaving 14 men on base to match a season high. They had runners on base in every inning, including runners on second and third with one out in the third, the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth and the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, but went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
“Tonight was just one of those days we just couldn’t get anybody in,” Mikulik said.
Lynchburg catcher Tyler Tewell hit a three-run homer to right field in the bottom of the second, plating Emerson Landoni, who singled through the first base hole, and Will Skinner, who grounded to third but reached when Pelicans first baseman Kevin Torres bobbled a low throw from Luis Mendez.
Skinner added a homer to left in the fourth on a low line drive that barely cleared the fence. The homers were the ninth and 10th allowed by Pelicans starter Luis Parra in his 19th appearance of the season – the most long balls allowed on the staff.
Parra and the Pelicans endured an ugly top of the fourth defensively. After Skinner’s homer began the inning, Parra walked the next three batters to end his evening after just three-plus innings, and they all eventually scored.
A Blake Brown single scored a run, a wild pitch scored another and Levi Hyams scored the fourth run of the inning on a chopper that was fielded by second baseman Christopher Bostick. The infield was in, but reliever Cody Ege was apparently oblivious and nearly was hit in the face by Bostick’s throw, which was low and wasn’t handled by catcher David Lyon.
“We’ve played some of the best games in the second half, better than the first half, and then we’ve played some of the worst,” Mikulik said. “It’s a little inconsistent in the second half compared to the first, but we usually bounce back from nights like tonight and that’s a good sign.”
Parra (7-5) had been 2-0 with a 3.48 earned-run average in four previous starts in the second half, but allowed six earned runs on four hits and three walks while striking out four.
“He’s been pitching well for us as of late,” Mikulik said. “Tonight, unfortunately, he didn’t have his stuff and just kind of picked a little bit too much. It’s part of the development process and growing up and understanding what he needs to do.”
The Pelicans (58-35 overall, 14-11) will finish the four-game series and end a stretch of 27 games in 26 days with a 7:05 p.m. start Monday and are expected to start Chad Bell (4-0, 3.70) against Lynchburg’s Jarrett Miller (4-6, 4.25).