The Myrtle Beach Pelicans shut out the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals), 2-0 to take a two games to none lead in the best-of-five Mills Cup Championship Series.
You know your team has depth in the starting rotation when Tyler Skulina is your fifth starter. Tonight Skulina got the win after allowing just one hit over five innings. Skulina struck out six, walked two and hit one batter. The closest he came to giving up a run was in the fourth inning when he gave up a leadoff single, the only hit he allowed tonight, and then walked the next batter. After striking out the next batter for the first out, Skulina then threw a wild pitch to put runners on first and third with one out. But a line out to third and a diving catch by center fielder Pin-Chieh Chen on a dying line drive ended the fourth inning with no damage done.
The Pelicans took a lead in the top of the first inning when Chen singled with one out and then scored two batters later on a two-out double by Victor Caratini. The score would stay that way until the ninth inning when Chen singled to lead off the inning, Jorge Soler singled to put runners on first and third and Caratini's second RBI double of the game scored Chen.
Daury Torrez relieved Skulina in the sixth and threw two innings. He had to pitch out of trouble in the sixth when he gave up a leadoff double, a one-out walk to put runners on second and third and then an error by second baseman Daniel Lockhart loaded the bases with only one out. But Torrez got a tapper back to the mound that he was able to throw home to get a force out to get the second out. Then a fly ball to right that Soler caught in foul territory ended the threat in the sixth.
The final line on Torrez was zero runs on two hits and a walk over two innings. Torrez struck out one.
Tyler Ihrig pitched the eighth and gave up a leadoff single, but two strikeouts and a ground out later and the Pelicans lead was still intact. Last night's hero and winning pitcher, David Berg came on to retire the side in order in the ninth to get the save. All three outs were ground outs.
Chen was 2 for 4 tonight and scored both runs. Caratini was 2 for 3 with a walk and two doubles, both of which drove in Chen.
Soler, on his rehab assignment, was 1 for 4 with one strike out.
The series now moves to Myrtle Beach for game three on Wednesday night and, if necessary, games four and five on Thursday and Friday. The Pelicans will send Duane Underwood Jr. to the mound as they try to win their first Mills Cup since 2000 and only the second in their history. (The first one was in 1999 and that was shared as co-champions with Wilmington as it was called with the series tied two games each because of Hurricane Floyd). He'll be opposed by Wilmington's Alec Mills.
Many of the players on this year's Pelicans also played on the Midwest League champion Kane County Cougars last season.
Wednesday's game will start at 6:05 central time and you can listen to the radio call for free if you go to MyrtleBeachPelicans.com and follow the instructions there.