Merritt masterful over Birds

Pelicans collect season-low three hits

Pelicans infielder Luis Mendez socked the only extra-base hit and collected the lone RBI of the contest for the Pelicans in the loss on Sunday. (Robert Gurganus / Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

By Nathan Barnett / Myrtle Beach Pelicans | June 22, 2014 5:30 PM ET

ZEBULON, N.C. (JUNE 22, 2014) - The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers, fell 6-1 in the series and road trip opener to the Carolina Mudcats on Sunday afternoon at Five County Stadium. The Birds were held silent by Ryan Merritt until the eighth inning, and a five-run seventh inning dashed the chances of a rally. Myrtle Beach mustered just three-hits, a season low.

Pelicans starter Victor Payano matched zeros with Merritt in the first two frames. He allowed three hits and a walk in the first two innings but kept the Mudcats off of the scoreboard.

Carolina (3-1, 32-39), however, scratched across a run in the third. LeVon Washington and Todd Hankins collected back-to-back singles to open the frame. A ground ball double play ball off the bat of Erik Gonzalez got Payano one out away from working a scoreless third, but Yandy Diaz came through for Carolina.

The third baseman hit a bouncing ball to shortstop that skipped over Hanser Alberto's glove for an RBI single to put the Mudcats ahead 1-0.

Payano surrendered a one-out double in the fourth inning, but Cody Buckel entered and got out of the jam, keeping the score 1-0 through four.

Merritt was sensational on Sunday. He allowed just two baserunners in the first seven innings: a first inning single to Preston Beck and a walk of Beck in the fourth. After walking Beck, he set down 13 straight.

Myrtle Beach (2-2, 46-26) kept the game close until the seventh. Buckel faced the minimum in the fifth and sixth, but the Mudcats scraped together a rally in the seventh inning. Alex Monsalve singled on a ground ball off of the bare hand of Buckel to open the frame. Two batters later, Luigi Rodriguez sent a ball on the ground up the middle for a base knock. With men at the corners, Buckel uncorked a wild pitch to score Monsalve, putting the Mudcats up 2-0.

After a walk of Hankins, Buckel was lifted for left-handed reliever Cody Ege. He walked the first man he faced to load the bases. He then got ahead of Diaz 0-2 before the cleanup batter worked the count full and roped a double down the left field line, clearing the bases to extend the lead to 5-0.

Joe Sever added another run on a bloop single to right field.

With Carolina leading 6-0 in the eighth, Merritt returned to the hill. He set down the first two Pelicans he faced. Jose Cardona managed an infield single off of the starter, the first hit allowed since the first inning. Mendez followed with the only extra-base hit of the contest for the Birds, a double off of the left field wall, scoring Cardona, and putting Myrtle Beach on the scoreboard.

The run was the sole score the Pelicans would post, as they went on to lose 6-1. Jacob Lee tossed a perfect ninth to complete the contest. Merritt (7-2) earned the win, while Payano (3-4) suffered the defeat.

Myrtle Beach continues the series in Zebulon with the lone night game of the set on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. Luis Parra (5-4, 4.38 ERA) takes the hill for the Pelicans against Mudcats right-hander Michael Peoples (3-7, 5.24 ERA). The game can be heard live on WRNN AM 1450 ESPN Myrtle Beach, on the TuneIn Radio App, and via the MiLB First Pitch App, beginning with the Hampton Inn Pregame Show at 6:40 p.m.

The Pelicans return home on Wednesday, June 25 for a three-game series with the Potomac Nationals. Wednesday night is Wiener Wednesday, sponsored by WPDE. Fans can purchase one-dollar hot dogs all game.

Season Seats, Mini Plans, Flex Books, and single game tickets are available to see the Pelicans in 2014. For more information on tickets, please call (843) 918-6002, e-mail, visit, or visit the Pelicans box office, which is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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