Pelicans reach Mills Cup Finals

Six-run seventh inning produces 11-5 victory over Warthogs

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By John Torenli / Special to | September 6, 2008 2:37 PM ET

Ryne Reynoso held the Winston-Salem Warthogs at bay Saturday afternoon until the Carolina League's best offense took over.

Reynoso pitched seven solid innings and the Pelicans used a six-run seventh to rally for an 11-5 victory over the Warthogs at Ernie Shore Field, clinching a berth in the Mills Cup Finals.

Myrtle Beach, which won the first- and second-half Southern Division titles, appeared headed for a fifth and decisive game in the opening-round series before putting up more runs in one inning than it had in any of its previous three playoff contests.

Reynoso (1-0) yielded three runs -- all in the second inning -- on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He was in line to take the loss before the Pelicans' bats came to life in the seventh.

"This team, at some point they are going to have a breakout inning and it just explodes," said Reynoso, who went 10-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 27 games, including 26 starts, during the regular season.

Phillip Britton and Gorkys Hernandez sparked the decisive rally with back-to-back singles to start the frame. Travis Jones sacrificed and Eric Campbell was intentionally walked before Ernesto Mejia's two-run single erased a 3-2 deficit.

"When we had that big inning. Britton led off with a single and I had Gorkys set to sac bunt him over, but the defense broke in too quickly and he pulled back and hit a single past the infield," Myrtle Beach manager Rocket Wheeler said.

"And from there we just kept going and piled up seven runs. With this team, they can explode at any moment, any inning in the game. They never panic and knew that with something as simple as a bloop and a blast we would be back in this thing."

After Matt Davis replaced reliever Michael Dubee (0-1), the Pelicans continued their assault as Tyler Flowers ripped an RBI double. Brandon Hicks struck out before Jason Heyward greeted Wander Perez with a run-scoring base hit to right field.

The Warthogs' fourth pitcher of the inning, Nathan Jones, surrendered a two-run double to Concepcion Rodriguez as Myrtle Beach opened an 8-3 cushion before Britton fanned to end the inning.

"We were still on our toes [when we got the lead]," Wheeler said. "No matter what, in this stadium you have to stay alert. The ball jumps out of there and you are never safe."

After Reynoso worked around a walk and a single in the seventh, Tyler Wilson gave up two runs on two hits in the eighth. But Cory Gearrin struck out one in a perfect ninth as the Pelicans moved into a Finals showdown with the Northern Division champion Potomac Nationals.

Myrtle Beach, which went 9-11 against Potomac this season, will be bidding for its first league title since 2000 when the best-of-5 series begins Monday at BB&T Coastal Field.

"It is going to be a great series with Potomac," said Wheeler. "We both won our divisions in the first and second half."

Mejia drove in three runs and Jones, Flowers and Rodriguez each finished with two RBIs for Myrtle Beach, which scored a league-leading 764 runs this year.

Warthogs starter Jake Rasner yielded two runs on six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over five innings before Dubee was reached for four runs on three hits and two walks in 1 1/3 frames.

Joe Persichina went 3-for-4 with a run scored for Winston-Salem, which was denied a shot at its first championship since 2003.

John Torenli is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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