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Pelicans open with win over Blue Rocks

Gerry Rodriguez was trying to put the ball on the ground. Instead he hit a 400-foot home run.

If the events that unfolded during Thursday's season-opening 4-1 win were any indication, perhaps success will come effortlessly for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 2010. Rodriguez's two-run, sixth-inning blast plated the winning run against the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

With a runner on first, the Pelicans had called for the hit-and-run. Following his orders, Rodriguez was trying to advance the runner. He did much more than that.

"I was just trying to hit the ball on the ground," Rodriguez said. "I don't know how to explain it man. I was just trying to hit down on the ball, but I'm not sure what happened."

In front of the fourth-largest crowd in team history, the Pelicans took a step toward erasing the memories of 2009. After leading the minors in wins in 2008, Rocket Wheeler's club was loaded with youth and inexperience last season, resulting in a 53-84 finish, the worst record in the Carolina League.

It was the first time the Pelicans had finished last in Southern Division in both the first and second halves of the season since 2003.

"I'm very excited about this year, because of our pitching staff," Wheeler said. "We've got a lot of young arms, good arms."

Myrtle Beach starter Randall Delgado had an outstanding High A debut, but he was outdueled early by one of the best young arms in the minors. The Pelicans were fooled for five innings by Wilmington's Mike Montgomery, the top prospect in the Kansas City Royals' farm system and the anchor of one of the top rotations in Minor League Baseball.

The 6-foot-5 lefty gave up just two hits, an unearned run and a walk while striking out six in five innings. He had similar success against the Pelicans in 2009, fanning 12 batters and giving up just one hit in 6 2/3 innings late last August.

As dominant as Montgomery was, the Pelicans were quickly able to exorcise their offensive demons against his replacement, Riquy Pena, in the sixth inning. Outfielder Adam Milligan singled and then Rodriguez blasted Pena's offering over the bleachers in left field, breaking a 1-all tie.

"It was a hit-and-run," Wheeler said. "He wasn't trying to hit it out. He swung right through it and made contact. ."

It wasn't a surprise to see Rodriguez go deep. In 63 games with Low A Rome last year, the Dominican Republic native had 11 home runs. In 60 games with the Pelicans, he had 12 more.

The teams had managed just two runs between them through the first five innings. Though he doesn't carry the same acclaim as Montgomery, Delgado looked like a top prospect as well.

The hard-throwing Panamanian, who was throwing in the mid-90s, gave up just three hits and an earned run in five innings, shutting down a lineup that featured Royals third baseman Alex Gordon after the Blue Rocks scored an opening-inning run. Gordon was making a rehab start after suffering a broken thumb.

Wilmington

Myrtle Beach

AB

R

H

BI

AB

R

H

BI

Norris cf

4

0

0

1

Miles cf

4

0

1

1

Gordon rf

2

1

1

0

Campusano 2b

4

0

1

0

Hosmer 1b

3

0

1

0

Milligan lf

4

2

2

0

Romak lf

4

0

1

0

Rodriguez dh

4

1

1

2

Taylor dh

3

0

0

0

Avila 1b

3

0

1

0

Wood ss

3

0

0

0

Sucre c

4

0

1

1

Perez c

3

0

0

0

Moody 3b

4

1

0

0

Garcia 2b

3

0

1

0

Shehan rf

2

0

0

0

Montgomery p

0

0

0

0

Zazta ss

3

0

0

0

Pena p

0

0

0

0

Delgado p

0

0

0

0

Thompson p

0

0

0

0

Crim p

0

0

0

0

Chapman p

0

0

0

0

Pruneda p

0

1

0

0

Totals

25

1

4

1

Totals

32

4

7

4

Wilmington

100

000

000

--

1

Myrtle Beach

001

000

21x

--

4

E--Wood 2 (2). LOB--Wilmington 4, Myrtle Beach 7. 2B--Milligan (1), HR--Rodriguez. SB--Shehan (1).

Wilmington

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Montgomery (L, 0-1)

5

2

1

0

1

6

Pena

2

3

2

2

1

2

Thompson

1

2

1

1

1

1

Myrtle Beach

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Delgado

5

3

1

1

1

5

Crim (W,1-0)

2

1

0

0

1

0

Champan (H,1)

1

0

0

0

0

3

Pruneda (S,1)

1

0

0

0

0

1

HBP--by Delgado (Gordon). Umpires--Home, Chris Graham, 1B: Doug Vines. T--2:13. A--6,366.

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