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Mudcats blow late lead, fall to Pelicans 5-2

Carolina blew a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth on Sunday.

Mudcats blow late lead, fall to Pelicans 5-2
Todd Hankins played center field for Carolina on Sunday, and produced at the plate going 1-for-3 with a triple, RBI, walk and scored a run in the loss. (Photo credit: Tony Lastoria)
June 1, 2014
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC — The Carolina Mudcats fell to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5-2 Sunday despite taking a lead into the eighth inning.

Mudcats ace Ryan Merritt was in line to become the first pitcher in the Carolina League to seven wins, but, ultimately, had to settle for a no decision after the Mudcats bullpen blew their fifth save of the season.

After a Christopher Bostick single drove in Jorge Alfaro to give the Pelicans a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Merritt settled down and kept the dangerous Myrtle Beach lineup at bay.

He cruised through the next four innings leaving the game after 5.0 innings in which he allowed just the one run on three hits. The southpaw struck out five and walked four.

Merritt left the game in line for the win thanks to a pair of Carolina runs in the top of the third. After Logan Vick drew a walk to begin the inning, Todd Hankins tripled to centerfield to tie the game. The next batter, Yhoxian Medina, singled to left bringing in Hankins and giving the Mudcats a 2-1 advantage.

Outside of the third, the Carolina offense struggled against Myrtle Beach starter Victor Payano. The lefty also earned a no decision after a 6.0 inning outing that saw him allow two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and five walks.

Jose Monegro (1.0, 0.00 ERA) relieved Payano and dominated the Mudcats. He allowed just one hit in three innings of scoreless relief, earning his first win of the year thanks to Myrtle Beach’s offensive explosion in the eighth inning.

Josh Martin (2-3, 1.95 ERA) was credited for the loss for Carolina. After pitching scoreless sixth and seventh innings, Martin pitched himself into trouble as Nick Williams singled and Alfaro walked to begin the bottom of the eighth.

Carolina then turned to Grant Sides to get of the jam, but the right-hander relinquished the lead as Bostick singled to center driving in Williams. Hanser Alberto followed with an RBI single of his own, and the Pelicans added a second run on the play as Bostick alertly went home following the Mudcats attempt to throw Alberto out taking second. Kevin Torres then provided another insurance run for the Pelicans with a base hit to drive in Alberto and make it 5-2. 

The Mudcats went quietly in the ninth. After an Alex Monsalve double with one out, Monegro forced back-to-back groundouts to short from Ryan Battaglia and James Roberts to end the game.

The loss drops Carolina 14 games behind Myrtle Beach, effectively eliminating the Mudcats from first half championship contention with only 14 games left to play and the Pelicans owning the tiebreaker.

Scooter Tucker’s Mudcats are now 23-31 on the year, while the Pelicans improve to 37-17.

Carolina will look to avoid the series sweep Monday in their final meeting of the first half with the Pelicans. Right-hander Cole Sulser is scheduled to take the mound for the Mudcats against lefty Luis Parra.

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