Soler paces Pelicans to Game 1 win

Rehabbing Cubs outfielder comes up clutch in Mills Cup Finals

Jorge Soler has two doubles, two runs and an RBI in his two rehab games with Myrtle Beach. (Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | September 13, 2015 9:54 PM

While his Chicago teammates are fighting for a National League playoff spot, Jorge Soler could be focused on just getting back to Wrigley Field. Instead, he's making the most of his time in the Carolina League.  

The rehabbing Cubs outfielder came up with a game-tying double and scored a run Sunday before Myrtle Beach edged Wilmington, 3-2, in 10 innings to take Game 1 of the best-of-5 Mills Cup Finals at Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium.

"It's been great. He's a pro, he understands that we've been scrapping and battling for 145 games and this is what it comes down to, so he understands that and he understands that this is huge for us," Pelicans manager Mark Johnson said. "He actually is really involved and he wants to be a part of it, which is very special."

In his second game with Myrtle Beach, Soler struck out in his first two at-bats before coming through in the clutch in the sixth inning. After Chesny Young and Pin-Chieh Chen began the frame with singles -- Young was out after he was hit by Chen's batted ball -- Soler ripped an RBI double to center field.

"He almost turned into a different guy. He saw the opportunity there and he was aggressive and he just put a really good swing on the ball and hit it to the left-center field gap," Johnson said. "I think he just saw the chance to knocks a run in and he was just ready to hit."

Cubs No. 9 prospect Mark Zagunis singled home Soler to give Myrtle Beach a lead it kept until Wilmington forced extra innings on Dominique Taylor's RBI forceout in the ninth.

Pelicans starter Jen-Ho Tseng, the Cubs' 16th-ranked prospect, limited the Blue Rocks to a run on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts over six innings.

"He struggled for us a little early on, he labored to find his release point, but he gathered himself and came back. Started throwing his four-seam and it got him back on track," Johnson said. "He gave us six, and we had a couple hiccups in the bullpen, but we had two guys [Jasvir Rakkar and David Berg] who came in and picked up the pieces and did a heck of a job."

Daniel Lockhart led off the 10th with a double off reliever Luis Rico (0-1), who walked Young. After Chen sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Soler was intentionally walked by Andrew Edwards to load the bases for Cubs No. 22 prospect, Victor Caratini who laced a single to right to put the Pelicans ahead for good.

"[The dugout] exploded. They were super-excited," Johnson said. "We just had a long road trip all the way out here, and then to come out here and play a 5 o'clock game and pull one out like we did definitely puts some momentum in our corner and it feels really good to get that Game 1 out of the way and get a 'W.'"

Berg (1-0) recorded the final six outs for the win.

Ryan O'Hearn -- the Royals' 14th-ranked prospect -- homered for Wilmington, which hosts Game 2 on Monday at 6:35 p.m. ET.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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