Pelicans welcome rare day off after second straight loss to Hillcats

ablondin@thesunnews.comJuly 14, 2014 

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans appear to be ready for their first day off Tuesday in 27 days.

The Pelicans struggled to push runners across the plate for the second consecutive night Monday in another loss to Lynchburg at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, falling 6-2.

“We’re definitely ready to get away from the game for a day and just have fun,” said first baseman Preston Beck, who plans to hit the beach and maybe do some fishing Tuesday. “You can’t really make that [weariness] excuse, everyone else is having the same off day tomorrow. Mentally, we might need that day off, but we’ll be fine.”

Myrtle Beach collected 10 hits for the second straight night but went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners a night after matching a season-high with 14 runners left on base. Myrtle Beach was 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position over the past two games, which completed a stretch of 27 games in 26 days since the Carolina League all-star break.

“We’ve left 24 guys on base in the last two nights. You get a few of those in and it’s a different story,” Pelicans manager Joe Mikulik said. “We’ve been getting them in all year, we’re just in a little rut and we have to find a way to get out of it. I’m not really worried about it.”

Myrtle Beach (58-36 overall) dropped to 14-12 in the second half and sits in second place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division after easily claiming the first-half crown.

“For the most part with the roster moves and changes, we’ve hung in there and battled and we’re still right where we want to be,” Mikulik said.

In front of 5,622, which was announced as the largest Monday night crowd in Pelicans history, Lynchburg (45-50, 11-14) had just five hits but was an efficient 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left just four men on base to win its second straight game after a five-game losing streak.

The Pelicans struck first for the second consecutive night, this time scoring a pair of runs in the second inning.

Outfielder Lewis Brinson led off the inning with his first home run as a Pelican. Brinson, a 6-foot-3 right-handed hitter who is 20 only by a couple months, hit a drive midway up the scoreboard in left-center field. One of the Texas Rangers’ top prospects, Brinson hit five home runs in his final five games in Hickory before being called up to Myrtle Beach on July 4.

The Pelicans added another run on a double down the left field line by Christopher Bostick followed by a one-out RBI double by Luis Mendez into the right-field corner.

Pelicans starter Chad Bell, attempting to go 5-0 on the season, was making the lead hold up through three innings, facing just one batter more than the minimum as he allowed a walk and hit a batter but didn’t surrender a hit.

But he was replaced after three innings by right-handed reliever Justin Sprenger, who would be charged with six runs in the sixth after two scoreless innings.

Bell was pulled by Mikulik as a precaution because of mild shoulder stiffness and the manager expects him to be ready to make his next start.

Bell, 25, has reached the Triple-A level but is returning this season from Tommy John elbow surgery and has been held to a maximum of five innings in each Pelicans appearance.

“We’ve been monitoring his innings,” Mikulik said. “It was a little tight tonight and he felt it so we took him out as a precaution.”

Sprenger hit No. 9 batter Daniel Carroll to begin the sixth and Eric Garcia followed with a single up the middle. Following a sacrifice bunt, Jose Martinez hit a two-run triple into the right-field corner, Kevin Ahrens walked and Will Skinner plated Martinez with a double.

Tyler Tewell plated two runs later in the inning with a single and another run scored on a balk.

The Pelicans travel to Winston-Salem on Wednesday for a three-game series before returning home Saturday for a three-game series against Carolina.

“We have a quality day off tomorrow,” said Mikulik, and has a round of golf scheduled with some coaches. “I think they deserve a day off so we can get back on our feet and get to Winston-Salem and get some of these guys to get some runs in.”

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284 or on Twitter @alanblondin, or read his blog Green Reading at myrtlebeachonline.com

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