Fabian Pertuz – Picture by Todd Johnson
Heading into the night, it was do or die for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans against Charleston. The Pelicans were at home and had Didier Vargas going on the mound. If they could pull off a win, they would come back for game three tomorrow. As for South Bend, they could clinch a spot in the Midwest league finals with a win as they sent Porter Hodge to the bump to try and stop Cedar Rapids
Myrtle Beach played first and Charleston jumped all over starter Didier Vargas for two runs in the first. The Pelicans roared back when Hayden McGeary followed suit with a two run shot of his own to tie things up in the bottom of the first.
But that was the highlight of the night for the Pelicans as Vargas got to two outs in the fourth inning and then proceeded to give up five runs to the RiverDogs. That wasn’t the proverbial nail in the coffin, but it took a lot of wind out of the Pelicans’ sails. After five innings, the ‘Birds had only managed three hits on the night.
Meanwhile in Cedar Rapids, Porter Hodge did not have his best stuff tonight but it was good enough to keep South Bend close for four innings. It was tied at two when Hodge finished the fourth and left the game with five strikeouts and he had thrown 80 pitches. In watching this game, I was really impressed by shortstop Brooks Lee Cedar Rapids. The dude is awesome and looked like the best player on the field for both teams.
Back to the game…
While Myrtle Beach was struggling, South Bend took the lead in the top of the fifth when Fabian Pertuz cranked a solo homer with nobody out. That home run was enough to chase pitcher Travis Adams who looked pretty good the first time through the order but was struggling the second time.
At this point, I thought South Bend had them right where they wanted them as they were getting into Cedar Rapids bullpen which is where South Bend tends to do most of the damage in the back half of the game. They just have a grinded away at pitching staffs all year long.
Unfortunately, it was the South Bend bullpen that had their wheels come off in the fifth when Adam Laskey left with the bases loaded and two outs only to see three runs plated as Joe Nahas walked a guy, hit another, and balked to make it 5-3 Cedar Rapids.
At this point, I was hopeful the Cubs would stage one of their cardiac comebacks like they did on Tuesday night.
However, South Bend never recovered as the Cedar Rapids bullpen held them scoreless the final four innings to win 5-3 and even the series. They will play a winner take all game tomorrow and Daniel Palencia will be on the mound for South Bend.
Back at the Beach, the Pelicans gave up three more runs in the eighth to make it 10-2. It was pretty much over at that point. Moises Ballesteros hit a two run shot in the ninth and Josue Huma hit a solo shot, but it was too little too late as Charleston won 10-6 to win the series.
Congrats to Myrtle Beach on a great year that saw them have the best record in minor league baseball in the first half at 47-19!
I will be back in the morning with two posts – one on underreported reliever stories and a second one on the Fall Instructs roster.