SWEPT AWAY: The Pelicans swept a doubleheader from Salem by scores of 5-2 and 6-4 (9 innings) on Saturday in front of 3,717 at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
GAME 1 SKINNY: The Sox spotted Myrtle Beach ace Cody Buckel a three-run lead in the first inning and couldn’t overcome it.
Buckel, the Carolina League leader in ERA (1.27) and strikeouts (81), wasn’t at his best but still fanned eight over 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits. Ben Henry picked up the win for Myrtle Beach in relief with 3 1/3 scoreless frames.
GAME 2 SKINNY: The Pelicans touched up previously impenetrable reliever Mike Olmsted for two runs in the ninth inning and held on for the sweep.
Yefry Castillo scored the go-ahead run with one out on a wild pitch before Teodoro Martinez added insurance with an RBI single. Salem got a runner aboard in the ninth, but Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play to end it.
The Sox stranded a runner at third in the sixth, seventh and eighth. James Kang hit an RBI triple for the Sox in the sixth to tie it 4-4 and force extra innings.
RACE UPDATE: Combined with Winston-Salem’s 3-0 win over Carolina on Saturday, the Sox dropped to 2 1/2 games behind the Dash for first place in the Southern Division standings. The Sox and Dash play a critical four-game series here starting Monday night.
Salem hasn’t won a first half division crown since 1988. The first half ends two weeks from today.
MAKE IT A DOUBLE: Jackie Bradley Jr. legged out a double in both ends of the doubleheader, giving him a league-high 22 through 53 team games. That puts him well on pace to break Garrett Atkins’ Salem record of 43 set in 2001, although it’s highly unlikely Bradley, who also tops the league in average and on-base percentage will spend the full season here without a promotion.
NICE RUN: The longest active hitting streak in the minors was snapped at 22 games in game 1 when Myrtle Beach’s Odubel Herrera went 0-for-2 with two groundouts and a walk. He was left in the on-deck circle in the final inning — then roped a single to right to lead off the nightcap.
VAST IMPROVEMENT: Michael Almanzar, who hit .182 at Salem in 2011, went 2 for 4 in the first game to raise his average to .302. He sat out the second game.
ON DECK: The four-game series concludes at 4:05 p.m. today, with Myrtle Beach RHP Roman Mendez (3-4, 4.11) facing Salem RHP Keith Couch (4-3, 3.52). Mendez, who originally signed with Boston for $125,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, was Texas’ key acquisition in the 2010 Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade. His fastball has touched 98 mph.