With a new look, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans hit the field for opening night Thursday.
The team’s first outing of the season in front of fans at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs certainly made the most of its opportunities. Using a solid day on the mound and timely hitting early on, the Pelicans earned a 5-2 opening night victory over the Frederick (Md.) Keys.
“You always like to win the first game of the season and have a good first impression as an individual and as a team,” Myrtle Beach manager Buddy Bailey said. “We had a good crowd tonight and they saw a good game and are going home happy.”
Pelicans catcher Gioskar Amaya started things off in the second inning by hitting an RBI single, with Myrtle Beach adding another run on a fielding error to take a quick 2-0 advantage.
Yasiel Balaguert kept things going in the third, driving in Gleyber Torres – who reached on a fielding error – to give the Pelicans a three-run lead.
After Myrtle Beach gave up a run to Frederick in the top of the fifth, Torres hit an RBI double and later scored on a wild pitch to give the Pelicans a four-run lead and they never looked back.
You always like to win the first game of the season and have a good first impression as an individual and as a team. We had a good crowd tonight and they saw a good game and are going home happy.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey
Torres finished 1-for-4 with two runs and an RBI to pace the club.
“Torres had a great night,” Bailey said of the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect, according to Baseball America. “... We had a nice game offensively and picked up a couple runs on the base running end. We hit some balls harder than the five hit total we had, and we made the most of our opportunities.”
Myrtle Beach starter Jonathan Martinez picked up right where he left off last season with a solid outing Thursday as he gave up just one earned run on three hits and two walks across five innings to receive the win. He led the Carolina League in ERA (2.56) last season and had a 9-2 record.
Daury Torrez – who had 10 wins as a starter in Myrtle Beach last season – was on the mound in a relief role Thursday, allowing one run (unearned) and one hit in two innings.
Reliever James Pugliese tossed one shutout frame, and closer David Berg picked up the save as he struck out two in a shutout ninth inning.
“Martinez, Pugliese, Torrez and Berg all did really well tonight,” said Pelicans starter Jake Stinnett, who retired all 12 batters he faced in a 2-0 exhibition win over the Charleston RiverDogs the day before. “I’m just really happy for us get a win out there to start the season on a strong note.”
The Pelicans hit the field Friday for game two of a four-game series with Keys, starting at 7:05 p.m. Myrtle Beach also hosts Winston-Salem in a three-game series starting Monday.
“Myrtle Beach is a great place,” said Myrtle Beach hurler Tommy Thorpe, who also pitched in Wednesday’s exhibition win. “It’s great to start the year with a ‘W’ and we just need to keep the vibe going for the seven-game homestand.”