Myrtle Beach Pelicans Win Second Straight Carolina League Championship
Myrtle Beach defeats Lynchburg 5-3 to win the Mills Cup Championship Series
Entering Wednesday night’s contest with the Lynchburg Hillcats with a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, things did not look good for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Starter Preston Morrison was not sharp, surrendering an earned run in the first inning and serving up a two-run homer in the third inning.
The home run erased a lead for the Pelicans, as the new kid in town, Eloy Jimenez (2-for-5 with an RBI), singled in Charcer Burks (0-for-2 with two walks) in the top of the third. Eventual Mills Cup Most Valuable Player David Bote (2-for-4) came home on an error to put the Birds up 2-1.
James Pugliese was summoned from the bullpen to replace Morrison and tore his way through the Hillcats’ line-up, striking out seven in four perfect innings. Pugliese gave up a bloop double with one out in the eighth, which led to an appearance by Tommy Thorpe. The lefty retired the only two batters he faced, one by strikeout.
Myrtle Beach seized control of the game in the seventh inning. A walk to Burks and singles by Donnie Dewees (3-for-5) and Bote loaded the bases with nobody out. A wild pitch brought in Burks and a one out base hit from Bryant Flete (1-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Dewees. A fielder’s choice and throwing error allowed Bote to come in for the fifth run.
Carolina League saves leader Ryan McNeil was called on to slam the door, but got off to a rocky start by walking the first batter of the ninth. A force out and two straight strikeouts snuffed out any hope of a comeback for Lynchburg.
The victory gave Myrtle Beach back-to-back Mills Cup Championships, the first team to do so since the 1985-86 Winston-Salem Spirits, also a Cubs affiliate at the time. Among the alumni of those teams 30-plus years ago was current Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez.
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the High Class-A affiliate of the Cubs, are Carolina League Champions for the second year in a row. Two of the Cubs’ affiliates won league championships this season. Short-Season Class-A Eugene Emeralds celebrated a Northwest League Championship on Tuesday night, the franchise’s first championship in 41 years (1975).