Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Martinez throws gem, Pelicans notch bounce-back win

A day after giving up 14 runs, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ pitching staff allowed only two hits Sunday.

The club also had a big day at the plate.

Starter Jonathan Martinez made a quality start, Victor Caratini and Mark Zagunis drove in two runs each, and the Pelicans took a 7-1 victory over Lynchburg with temperatures reaching the 90s at Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

“It’s hot out here, man. It’s really hot. But we got a really good start from Martinez,” said Myrtle Beach manager Mark Johnson, whose team fell to the Hillcats 14-5 Saturday. “He came out, used his secondary [pitches] really well and they hit some balls right at some guys. Then our bullpen came in and shut them down. And we finally scored some runs which we’ve been struggling to do for the last week or so.”

Trailing 1-0 entering the fourth inning, Pelicans catcher Victor Caratini opened the floodgates with a towering two-run home run to left field.

An inning later, Myrtle Beach drove Lynchburg starter Luis Lugo off the mound.

Zagunis hit an RBI single off Lugo to start things off in the fifth and Pin-Chieh Chen followed with an RBI single of his own. Then, Zagunis scored after Caratini grounded into a double play, and Jacob Rogers highlighted the big inning with an RBI double as the Pelicans took a 6-1 lead.

Then, Zagunis hit an RBI ground-rule double in the sixth to cap Myrtle Beach’s scoring. The Pelicans had 11 hits and were 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

“We just kind of got the ball rolling. We hadn’t put together a big inning like that in a while,” Johnson said. “Once we got the momentum going we put together some good at-bats and some guys put some good swings on the ball. We were lucky to plate some runs.”

Martinez (5-1), a Carolina League all-star, picked up the victory as he struck out just one batter but allowed only one run, two hits and walked none in six innings of work. Meanwhile, Fernando Cruz tossed one perfect inning and James Pugliese threw two perfect innings out of the Pelicans’ bullpen.

“They did the same thing to us the other night,” said Johnson, whose team was held to just two hits in a series-opening 1-0 loss to the Hillcats on Friday. “It was just a really well-pitched game. They’re a pretty good offensive team and for us to do what we did tonight was pretty impressive. It was one of those days.”

Meanwhile, Lugo (3-5) received the loss as he surrendered six runs on eight hits and one walk in four frames.

With seven games left in the first half of the season, the Pelicans’ magic number is now 5 and they hold a three-game southern division lead over the Salem Red Sox, who beat Wilmington 7-0 Saturday. Carolina is around the corner, but trail Myrtle Beach by six games.

Johnson and the Pelicans aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves, though, as Myrtle Beach travels to take on Winston-Salem in a three-game series starting Monday at 7 p.m.

“I think we all [want to clinch]. But you’ve got to take it one pitch at a time and one game at a time and not look too far ahead,” Johnson said. “Just got to play every day one pitch at a time.”

Contact MAX McKINNON at 626-0302 or on Twitter @mmckinnonTSN.