Jackson displayed occasional command difficulties his first time through the order. In fact, he hit leadoff man Whit Merrifield with a full-count pitch to begin the game. When his first trip through the nine concluded, he had whiffed four, walked two, and owned a 2-1 lead. Christian Villanueva and Tomas Telis drove in the Pelicans' scores in the bottom of the first while Juan Graterol's single plated an in-motion Brett Eibner from first in the second.
But in the bottom of the second, Wilmington starter Brooks Pounders (2-3) was forced to face every man in the hosts' lineup. Three of them scored thanks to run-scoring hits from Odubel Herrera, Brett Nicholas and Telis, while three were left stranded when Pounders induced a grounder from Teodoro Martinez to end the inning. That also ended his shortest start as a Blue Rock with five runs, seven hits, a walk and a hit batter on his line.
That and a dominant second journey through the Blue Rocks' lineup gave Jackson the win. At one point he struck out six straight hitters on his way to five innings of one-hit, one-run ball. While the strikeout number dropped, the Blue Rocks did not find much more success against the bullpen. A pair of one-out triples went for naught against middle man Francisco Mendoza. Cheslor Cuthbert greeted Kyle DeVore with a first-pitch homer to begin the eighth, but the right-hander faced the minimum thereafter to polish off the game.
The four-game set continues on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Wilmington right-hander Andy Ferguson (1-0, 4.76) gets the nod against fellow righty Wilmer Font (2-5, 4.63). Broadcast coverage begins at 6:35 p.m. as studio host Rob Cunningham brings fans the Rocks Report Pre-game Show, presented by Wawa, on 89.7 WGLS-FM and online at wgls.rowan.edu.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
The Blue Rocks' struggles against Southern Division teams continued as they fell to 18-38 against those clubs. That includes an 8-21 mark when actually in a ballpark from the South. Wilmington is 23-16 overall against its brothers in the North.
In 14 games against the Blue Rocks this season, Myrtle Beach's pitching staff owns a 1.08 ERA and a .180 batting average against. The Blue Rocks have been outscored 51-29 in those meetings.
In addition to 14 of the 29 runs being unearned, another reason the Pelicans' possess such a good ERA against the Blue Crew is their walk rate. Over 125 innings in the head-to-head meetings, Myrtle Beach has issued a total of 32 walks or 2.3 per nine innings. During that time, the Pelicans have also registered 134 strikeouts for a 4.2:1 K:BB ratio and an average of more than 9.6/9 IP.
For the second straight night, the Carolina League's top pitching staff held the Blue Rocks to just five hits. Wilmington fell to 4-23 when held to five hits or less.
Luke Jackson's 12 strikeouts place him in a tie with 11 others for the fifth-best single-game strikeout performance in the history of Pelicans baseball. It is the most by a Pelican in a game this season and the most by any hurler against the Rocks since Brian Matusz whiffed 13 on May 8, 2009 at Frederick. Matusz took the loss that day as Danny Duffy got the win in a 3-0 shutout.
Jackson posted the highest single-game strikeout total by a Pelican against the Blue Rocks since Tommy Hanson notched 13 on Opening Night in 2008.
With two games left at Pelicans Ballpark this season, the Blue Rocks are guaranteed a losing record in the Palmetto State as they fell to 2-6 at the home of the Pelicans.