Pelicans flip offense on, and it doesn't shut off
When Wednesday's game between Single-A Myrtle Beach and Salem was over, the box score showed 24 runs on 22 hits -- and that was just one side of it. The Pelicans offense delivered a Minor League season high in runs during the 24-6 romp over the Red Sox at Haley
When Wednesday's game between Single-A Myrtle Beach and Salem was over, the box score showed 24 runs on 22 hits -- and that was just one side of it.
The Pelicans offense delivered a Minor League season high in runs during the 24-6 romp over the Red Sox at Haley Toyota Field. The output topped the previous high of 21 runs by Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on April 30 against Visalia.
But for the Cubs affiliate, it all simply meant: mission accomplished.
"In all honesty, we have a goal every single night to go out there and get 20 hits," Pelicans hitting coach Steve Pollakov said. "That is what we talk about all the time, that is what we try to do in every game. So, it felt great to get it done tonight.
"Birds to the moon, that's the vibe of this team."
Every Myrtle Beach starter reached base and scored at least once, while all but one notched at least one hit. The biggest contribution came from the No. 9 hitter in the order, Peter Matt. The 2021 10th-round Draft pick accounted for 10 of the Pelicans' runs -- driving in seven and scoring three. Matt clubbed the first two home runs of his career, adding an RBI single and a sacrifice fly. The seven RBIs tied a franchise record shared by Joey Gallo, Zach Zaneski, and Tyler Flowers for the most in a single game. He’s the first to hit that mark since Gallo in 2014.
Seven starters finished with multihit performances with 11th-ranked Cubs prospect Reginald Preciado and Cole Roederer delivering four knocks apiece. Sixth-ranked Pete Crow-Armstrong provided a spark at the top of the lineup with a two-run homer on a three-hit night, while Preciado broke out of an early-season slump in a big way: doubling twice and driving in a career-best six runs.
"I am really proud of Reggie and to see him have this night was special," Pollakov said of Preciado who entered the game with a .132/.164/.170 slash line. "He scuffled a little at the beginning here, but he's handled everything like a pro. And he's just 18 and in this league, so that's really telling you something about the kind of kid he is. But we've been working on a lot of things in terms of swing traits and stance and the right approach, so to see him put it all together and have these results tonight, that was special."
Yeah, that just happened.— Myrtle Beach Pelicans (@Pelicanbaseball) May 5, 2022
The most runs in a @MiLB game this season and our most runs in at least 17 years.
Birds are ROLLING. #MBPelicans pic.twitter.com/Pe9FSZOh4i
Matt's night elicited just as many oohs and aahs, even from the 23-year-old outfielder himself.
"It was just an awesome feeling to get the first [home run] out of the way, and then in the next at-bat, I got another good pitch to hit and got the barrel on it and it went out again," Matt said. "It's just kind of funny, I had over 100 pro at-bats (119 entering the game) and never hit a homer, and then I hit two in a row. That's just baseball, I guess."
Matt's teammates made sure the moments were uniquely memorable.
"They knew I never had one, so after the first one, I came back to the dugout pumped up and they gave me the silent treatment," he said. "But after the second one, everyone was just excited for me and we had some fun. I think it just speaks volumes of the culture of our team. Everyone is really supportive of each other and we want to see every guy here succeed, and I think that's ultimately led to us having more success on the field."
After being called out on strikes to end the first inning, Matt crushed a two-run shot to center field in the third. In the following frame, he capped a six-run inning for the Pelicans with a three-run blast to left-center. The Duke product blooped an RBI single to right in the fifth and crossed the plate on Crow-Armstrong's home run six pitches later. The seven RBIs shattered Matt's previous career high as the New York City native hadn't driven in more than a single run in 35 games.
"I started slow this year, and tonight, things finally clicked for me, so it was nice to see some results," Matt said. "Hopefully now it's just about consistency and putting together more games like this. Hopefully, this is the start of something."
"Matt is a guy who comes in day in and day out and just busts his butt because he wants to get better on a daily basis," Pollakov added. "And just what a phenomenal moment for him tonight. It shows him what he's capable of and I think that's something he needed to see. He can do that all the time."
The Pelicans scored at least two runs in each of the first five innings before putting up a 4-spot in the eighth. The club wasn't retired in order in any inning, sending nine batters to the plate in the first, fourth and fifth. Myrtle Beach faced seven Salem pitchers who combined to toss 230 pitches.
"This is what it's about, baseball is a blast, and it's just a beautiful moment to see the kids' hard work show," Pollakov said. "And a lot of times, stuff happens that the box score doesn’t reflect, so to see what they did tonight, it's really special. We don’t fall victim to resulting here. Nothing changed today, it was just trusting our process and when you have the proper process in place on a consistent basis, the results happen and you saw that tonight.
"As an organization, there is something special brewing here -- I see it, up and down -- and I hope Chicago is ready because the kids are coming!"
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.