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Gallardo Shines, Pelicans Sweep Series with Sunday Victory at Columbia

May 22, 2022

The eight-game winning streak for Myrtle Beach is the longest since 2018

The eight-game winning streak for Myrtle Beach is the longest since 2018

By Sam Weiderhaft

For the first time this season, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans swept a six-game series as they finished off the week with a tight 4-3 victory over the Columbia Fireflies on Sunday evening. With their eighth straight win, the Birds now hold a 28-11 record on the season. The winning streak is their longest since winning nine consecutive contests in 2018. Columbia dropped to 11-28 with the finishing blow.

The Pelicans turned just seven hits into four runs with Felix Stevens (2-4, HR, 2 RBI) leading the flock with his third home run of the season and second of the week. Pete Crow-Armstrong (1-4, HR, RBI) crushed his team-leading sixth homer in the third inning while Jacob Wetzel (1-4, RBI, R) accounted for two runs.

With nearly six no-hit innings, Pelicans starting pitcher Richard Gallardo (4-1) earned the win with one earned run through 5 2/3 frames. Gallardo struck out three and walked three in his outing. Johzan Oquendo bridged the middle of the game with two earned runs off three hits in his 2 1/3 innings, and Bryan King picked up his third save with two strikeouts and one hit allowed through the final frame.

Columbia waited until the bottom of the sixth to collect their first hit as Rubendy Jaquez (1-4, RBI) broke the drought. Darryl Collins (2-4, 2B, RBI) accounted for half of the Fireflies' hits on the evening.

Fireflies’ starter Eric Cerantola (1-2) took the loss with three earned runs off five hits in his four innings of work with two strikeouts. Samuel Valerio sacrificed the other earned run in his three innings out of the bullpen with two hits and three walks allowed while striking out three.

The Pelicans scored a run in three straight innings starting with the second. Kevin Made and BJ Murray Jr. hit back-to-back singles to lead off the frame as runners were on the corners for Jacob Wetzel. On a 2-2 pitch, Wetzel grounded to third as Made scored, and Murray was forced out at second.

Myrtle Beach’s second run came in the third as Crow-Armstrong crushed his sixth home run of the season to right field with one out to give the Birds a 2-0 lead.

Another run came in the fourth for the Pelicans as Wetzel singled with two outs and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Cerantola. Stevens hit him home on a single up the middle for a 3-0 Myrtle Beach lead.

After being held without a hit for nearly six innings, the Fireflies received their first hit and run from Jaquez in the top of the sixth. Daniel Vazquez led off with a four-pitch walk by Gallardo, but the next two batters were retired. Gallardo walked River Town with a full count to put two runners on as the starting pitcher’s night ended. Johzan Oquendo came out of the bullpen and gave up a single to Jaquez to left as Vazquez scored to make it 3-1 Pelicans.

The Pelicans fired right back as Stevens led off the seventh by crushing a baseball over the left-field bleachers for a solo home run as the Birds went back up by three.

The home team inched closer with a two-run bottom half of the seventh. Guillermo Quintana led off with a single to right and Collins hit him in on a double to right field. After Erick Pena walked, Vazquez laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners in scoring position with one out. Valdez cashed in with a sacrifice fly to right to bring in Collins as the Pelicans held a 4-3 lead. Omar Hernandez finished the inning on a bunt attempt that was fielded by Oquendo and thrown to first in time.

With King coming out to close the game for the Pelicans, the Fireflies put together one last fight in the ninth. Quintana led off with a walk and Collins singled on a bunt to put two runners on. King struck out the following two batters and Enrique Valdez grounded out to Stevens at first to end the game.

The Pelicans continue their road trip by heading to Augusta on Tuesday to take on the GreenJackets for a six-game series. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.