Victor Caratini is making himself more and more vital to the Myrtle Beach lineup at the most important part of the year.
In his latest postseason showcase, the Cubs' No. 22 prospect slapped a pair of RBI doubles as the Class A Advanced Pelicans blanked the Wilmington Blue Rocks, 2-0, on Monday at Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium to take a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-5 Mills Cup Finals.
"I feel pretty good being able to get the right hits at the right time and to get those two runs and being able to help us get the 'W,'" Caratini said through interpreter and Myrtle Beach pitching coach David Rosario. "When you're able to perform in those situations, those are the times that make a difference in winning or losing games. It always feels great when you're able to be the guy in the clutch."
After plating three runs in the decisive game to get the Pelicans to the Carolina League Championship Series, Caratini collected three hits in the opener. The 22-year-old catcher continued to produce Monday, lacing an RBI double to right field in the first inning before belting another two-bagger to center in the ninth.
"[Reliever Estarlin Cordero] left a pitch over the plate that I could drive. I was able to put the barrel there and put a good swing on it with great results," Caratini said of the second double. "Things are going good for me right now. I'm seeing the ball pretty well. I feel good at the plate, and hopefully, that can continue for the next couple games."
After Caratini's first two-bagger, the scoreboard was lined with zeros for the next eight frames, especially with Tyler Skulina (1-0) dealing for the Pelicans. The right-hander -- who turns 24 on Friday -- spun five one-hit frames while issuing one walk and striking out six.
"He threw the ball pretty well through the first three innings. He was consistent with the fastball and he was able to finish with a good breaking ball for strikes," Rosario said. "In the fourth, he struggled with command. He lost command of the strike zone a little … but he managed his emotions well. He was able to make pitches when he had to."
With Blue Rocks starter Jake Junis (0-1) dominating as well, Rosario settled in for a second straight pitching duel. Junis allowed one run on three hits over six innings in the hard-luck loss.
"It's so exciting to watch those type of games when they're close. And those are the type of games that help [pitchers] develop, because they have to respond in tough situations," the pitching coach said. "It's always great when they have to perform and they come out on top."
Myrtle Beach looks to close out the series on its home turf at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
"It's obviously good to be able to [beat] this team at the road and then play them at home, but baseball is baseball," Caratini said. "We are pretty comfortable right now, but we still know that it is not over and we know we have to go home and play good baseball the way we have the last couple games. "