For the past two weeks, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans tried to be the only Cubs’ affiliate to bring home a playoff trophy. Both the Cubs’ Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League teams lost in the first round of their playoff series. The Pelicans, who won the first half Southern Division of the Carolina League, had been mulling around since early June knowing they were in the playoffs. Many of the players (17) on the roster won a title with Kane County in 2014 in the Midwest League.
In the Mills Cup Championship Series, the Pelicans got out in front of Wilmington on Sunday night thanks in part to Jen-Ho Tseng who went six innings and gave up one run. In the top of the sixth, a series of hits from Pin-Chieh Chen, Jorge Soler, and Mark Zagunis netted two runs. That lead held until the ninth when Jasvir Rakkar broke down and loaded the bases with no outs. Dave Berg came in and got out of the inning with the game intact, but did allow one run to score and it was charged to Rakkar. In the top of the tenth, Daniel Lockhart ripped a double to start off the inning. This time Wilmington loaded the bases and Victor Caratini drove in the winning run with a single to center. Berg came back out for the tenth and locked it down going 1-2-3.
On Monday, the Pelicans rode the arm of Tyler Skulina who struck out six in five innings. Daury Torrez shut down Wilmington for two innings, Tyler Ihrig for one, and Berg for one more. Victor Caratini provided 2 RBIs, one in the first and one in the ninth, and that was enough for a 2-0 victory to take a 2-0 lead.
Heading into Wednesday’s game at home, the Pelicans were pretty comfortable with their odds of a sweep as Duane Underwood was slated to pitch. Underwood had only been back for two weeks since a DL stint for elbow inflammation robbed him of playing in July and August. He did not disappoint as he went 6 innings with 7 Ks and only gave up one run. Victor Caratini was again the man of the hour driving in one run and Daniel Lockhart drove in the other run in the second.
David Garner came in to pitch and went two innings striking out 4. His curveball was especially damning with its vicious 12-6 bite. When the ninth began, out of the bullpen came Dave Berg. After a seeing eye single, a sac bunt moved the runner over to second. A single soon followed to tie the game at 2.
In the bottom of the ninth, Mark Zagunis worked a walk and Jason Vosler did the same to put two men on with no outs. Gleyber Torres then put down a perfect bunt to move the two over to second and third. Daniel Lockhart had first crack at driving in Zagunis, now on third. A short fly to center wasn’t deep enough to get Zagunis in. It was all up to Chesny Young. Wilmington wasn’t going to take a chance with the Carolina League batting champ and intentionally walked Chesny.
This brought up Pin-Chieh Chen and a new pitcher for Wilmington. With a 1-1 count, Chen hit a slow roller misplayed by the thirdbaseman and shortstop and Zagunis scored for the walkoff 3-2 win!!!
Congratulations go out to the Pelicans players and the organization!!!
Catcher Victor Caratini was just amazing this postseason batting .474 with 7 RBIs and was the Pelicans MVP of the playoffs. It was nice to see him dominate behind the plate and at the plate. As for Jorge Soler, he did score a few runs and had a couple of hits, but he only batted .231 in his short rehab stint.