David Bote finally got some significant assistance from his teammates, and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are headed to Lynchburg even in the Carolina League’s Mills Cup Championship Series.
Bote, who is batting a torrid .611 in the playoffs, got another two hits and three RBI on Sunday, and he was joined by four other Pelicans with two hits apiece as Myrtle Beach broke out for 13 hits in an 8-3 win in the second game of the best-of-five series.
The Pelicans had managed just six runs in their previous 34 innings entering Sunday’s final game of the season at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, and six of their hits Sunday came in a key five-run fifth inning.
“A lot of guys kicked in,” Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey said. “… You go all the way though. Everybody contributed in that inning and we made a big inning out of it.”
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The series resumes at Calvin Falwell Field in Lynchburg, Va., on Tuesday and will conclude either Wednesday or Thursday.
“It’s been a good series so far and it’s the two best teams in the league,” Bote said. “It’s going to come down to the next three games and it’s going to be real fun.”
Myrtle Beach trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, which included six hits and a walk in the span of eight plate appearances.
Charcer Burks got the scoring started with a one-out home run over the left field bleachers. Donnie Dewees then lined a single to right field and scored on a Bote double in the right-center gap. Eloy Jimenez walked and was forced out at second on a ground ball by Bryant Flete before Jeffrey Baez lined an RBI single to right field, Andrew Ely lined an RBI single to center and Erick Castillo lined an RBI single to left.
If we keep getting 13 hits and eight runs we’ll take our chances any night with that.
Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey
Lynchburg, a Cleveland Indians affiliate, recorded seven hits and two runs in four innings against Pelicans starter Jeremy Null and a run on two hits in the fifth off reliever James Norwood to take its 3-1 lead.
Righthander Daniel Lewis settled things down for the Pelicans following their big inning by getting through two innings without allowing a run, and gave way to lefty Tommy Thorpe after giving up a leadoff single in the eighth. Thorpe retired the next three batters.
“[Lewis] changed it,” Bailey said. “… We took the lead and he was able to go out and put up two zeros and keep the momentum on our side, so that was huge.”
Though the start of the game was delayed an hour and 20 minutes due to a storm, Lynchburg wasted no time in jumping on Null.
The Hillcats loaded the bases with no outs on an infield single up the middle by leadoff hitter Tyler Krieger and consecutive singles into right field by Francisco Mejia and Anthony Santander. But they managed just one run, as Bobby Bradley splintered his bat while hitting into a run-scoring double play and Dorssys Paulino grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Pelicans immediately got the run back in the bottom of the first without the benefit of a hit when Burks walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a groundout by Jimenez, who made his Pelicans debut at designated hitter after being called up Sunday from Low-A South Bend.
Bote continued to tear up opposing pitching, going 2-for-4 with three RBI, a double, run and walk. The Chicago Cubs organization’s Player of the Month for August is 11-for-18 in Myrtle Beach’s five postseason games, and has been on base 16 times (3.2 times per game) with four walks and a hit-by-pitch.
He got a lot of help for the first time in four games as four other Pelicans had two hits each: Dewees, Baez, Castillo and Jesse Hodges, who ironically made two outs in Myrtle Beach’s big fifth inning. With their two hits Sunday, Baez and Dewees are batting .350 and .333 in the playoffs, respectively, and Ely went 1-for-4 to fall to .421.
The Pelicans also have more reason for optimism on offense with the addition of Jimenez on Sunday. The sinewy Midwest League MVP batted .329 with 40 doubles and 14 home runs this season at South Bend, and looked comfortable at the plate Sunday while going 1-for-3 with an RBI groundout and a pair of walks, each on two-strike counts including one at-bat that began 0-2. He batted cleanup behind Bote.
“The first at-bat they didn’t want to pitch to Bote. They kind of pitched around him to see what the kid could do,” Bailey said. “Then the kid got the RBI, then he laid out the rope to left, then he showed patience to take walks. So all of a sudden he’s gained some respect in one game, I would think, which is really big for us because now people are going to have to pitch to Bote.”
Jimenez, a 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic who is the No. 2 prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization according to MLB.com, said he felt at-ease Sunday.
“I feel comfortable. Nothing different from the Low-A. It’s the same game and same pitchers,” Jimenez said. “I was so excited when they called me up, I just said, ‘Let’s get the ring. Let’s get the championship.’ ”