Myrtle Beach, SC -
For the second time in as many nights, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (48-48, 16-10) blew a 3-0 lead to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (38-58, 12-14) and lost in walk-off fashion. On Wednesday, their anguish concluded in 13 innings, 4-3. Cory Harrilchak's only hit in six at-bats drove home the winning run, which went unearned on closer Barry Bowden (2-5)
. Four Wilmington errors led to three unearned runs in total and a loss in the rubber match to drop the three-game set.
Nick Francis' RBI groundout in the first gave the Blue Rocks an early advantage. Christian Colon singled in a score in the third and Salvador Perez drove in a tally later that same frame on a sac fly for a 3-0 lead. However, that was also the first of two times on the night the Blue Rocks would enjoy a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity. Between the two such occurrences, the team would net just one run on that Perez sac fly.
The Pelicans plated an unearned run against starter John Lamb in the bottom of the third. Errors by Rey Navarro at second and on a Lamb pickoff try bookended an L.V. Ware single. Mycal Jones followed with an RBI fielder's choice, but Lamb picked him off to end the inning and limit damage.
Braeden Schlehuber singled to start the sixth. Ware moved him up with a sacrifice bunt and Jones followed with a fly ball to right that dropped between right fielder Rene Oriental and first baseman Ernesto Mejia for an error on Oriental, putting men at second and third. Harrilchak notched his first of two RBIs on the night with a groundout to second. Jordan Kreke then bounced a ball to the third-base side of the mound. With Jones breaking home from third, Lamb fielded the ball efficiently and got a throw to first in time to beat Kreke and end the threat.
Wilmington wasted its final strong scoring chance of the night in the eighth. Francis and Perez reached on consecutive hits against reliever Luis Avilan. Shane Costa then bounced into a 4-6-3 double play and Oriental flied out to end the inning without a run.
Samuel Sime singled to short to start the home eighth. Cole Miles entered as a pinch-runner and moved up on a Schlehuber sacrifice. After Dan Nelson approached the circle as a pinch-hitter, Wilmington skipper Brian Rupp made the move to his bullpen and Harold Mozingo.
Nelson singled to left and Miles beat a throw to the plate by Costa to tie the game. Nelson took second on the throw, but never advanced beyond there. Mozingo retired 12 in a row from that point on and 14 of 15 while striking out six.
That closed the book on Lamb though. After a career-best 7.1 innings, Lamb allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits and no walks while whiffing eight.
Yeliar Castro (5-2) struck out the heart of the Blue Rocks' order 1-2-3 in the 13th before Bowden got the ball in the bottom half of the frame.
Colon committed the fourth Wilmington error of the night in allowing Schlehuber to reach with one out on a groundball to short. Nelson singled on a ball just fair down the left-field line and Jones flied out to center. Schlehuber tagged up from second, taking third and nullifying any chance for a play at the plate on Harrilchak's subsequent hit over Navarro.
The Rocks' final journey of the regular season through Myrtle Beach and Kinston now shifts to the Indians' Historic Grainger Stadium. The four-game set opens Thursday night at 7 p.m. Wilmington southpaw Danny Duffy (0-0, 6.75), a 2009 Carolina League All-Star, will oppose Kinston lefty T.J. McFarland (9-2, 2.45) who stands tied for the Carolina League lead in wins.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
The game started 29 minutes late due to a rain delay. As a result of the short-lived storm, the temperature dipped 12 degrees by the mercury and 26 degrees by the "feel" according to the National Weather Service in less than 20 minutes.
The Pelicans took two of three on the series despite going a collective 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position.
By losing their final game at Coastal Field on the regular season, the Blue Rocks posted a 3-7 mark in the Palmetto State this year.
Myrtle Beach used more pitchers in Wednesday's 13-inning game (6) than it did in its 20-inning clash with the Winston-Salem Dash on May 20 (5).
Five Pelicans relievers combined on nine scoreless innings of work.
Harold Mozingo's 4.2 innings pitched mark his longest outing since he was a starter in 2007 with Low-A Burlington (MWL).
The Blue Rocks entered the game with the league's best records in one-run games (18-11) and extra-inning contests (5-3), while the Pelicans entered with the most one-run losses (13-17) and the loop's worst mark in free baseball (1-8).
Rey Navarro batted in the leadoff spot for the first time as a Blue Rock. He fell a home run shy of the cycle with a 3-for-6 night including two runs scored. He has prior experience in the leadoff role, doing so in 54 games while a member of the Diamondbacks organization.
The earned run allowed by Lamb marks the first against the southpaw in six starts and 35.2 innings (0.25 ERA). He lowered his season-long ERA to 1.27.
The bottom four batters in Wilmington's lineup went a collective 1-for-19. The top five hitters went 11-for-29.
Despite lasting 13 innings, the game lasted just 3:21.
Of the Blue Rocks' 10 walk-off finishes this season, six have involved Myrtle Beach including four of their six such setbacks. Each of the prior five walk-off losses had come in nine innings.
The Blue Rocks are 6-2-1 over their last nine series. Both of the series defeats came against Myrtle Beach.
The teams' pitching staffs retired each other 1-2-3 a combined 15 times.
Earlier in the day, Wilmington filed a formal protest with the Carolina League regarding its balk-off loss on Tuesday night.
All five of Barry Bowden's losses this season have come on the road, all in walk-offs including three at Myrtle Beach. Twice that decisive run has been unearned in a final at-bat setback against the Pelicans.
The Blue Rocks entered Tuesday night 39-2 when leading after seven innings only to lose each of the final two games on the series despite owning an advantage at the start of the eighth.
Wilmington notched only three runs on a 12-hit night thanks in part to three double plays turned by Myrtle Beach. Twice, shortstop Mycal Jones turned the pivot in athletically avoiding the brunt of a tough takeout slide.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.