Pelicans clinch playoffs

Pelicans Clinch Playoff Spot With 8-3 Win Over the Captains

The Pensacola Pelicans are the 2009 Second Half South Division Champions. With an 8-3 victory in front of 2,292 fans in Pensacola, the Pelicans return to the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Pelicans will make their first entry into the American Association playoffs with Randy Beam’s tenth victory of the year.

The Captains entered the ballgame with a record of 26-14 when scoring first, and pushed a run across in the first inning. With two outs, Chris Garcia hit a line drive over the left field fence for his fifth home run of the year.

The Pelicans retaliated in the bottom of the first, scoring two runs of their own. Kevin Reynolds reached first on a fielder’s choice. After Antoin Gray walked and Chase Burch drew a base on balls as well, Marcos Rodriguez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Rodriguez delivered with a single that scored Reynolds and Gray, and the Pelicans took a 2-1 lead.

With a run in the top of the second inning, the Captains pulled even. Jose Torres walked with one out, and scored when Luis Guance followed with a double.

The Pelicans would take the lead again in the bottom of the second and never let it go. Adam Darby was hit by a pitch, Leandro was too, and Kevin Reynolds walked. That was the end for Captains’ starter Ronald Lowe, as Derek Miramontes took over. After a strikeout, Antoin Gray walked to push Darby home, and the Pelicans led 3-2.

Pensacola added three runs of insurance in the fifth inning, as Burch and Rodriguez each singled, and Dallas Christison walked. With the bases loaded Lou Palmisano hit a rocket groundball that ate up the Captains’ second baseman. Burch would score the Pelicans’ winning run on the play, but Adam Darby would follow with a single that plated Rodriguez and Christison. After five innings, the Pelicans were ahead by four.

The Captains scored their final run of the game in the top of the sixth after Ron Hill relieved Randy Beam. With two outs, Jorge Alavarez reached first base on an error by the third baseman. Jose Torres walked, and Luis Guance hit a single to drive in Alvarez. The run was unearned, as Hill would go on to pitch the sixth and seventh innings, allowing just two hits, a walk, and striking out two.

Starter Randy Beam yielded just three hits, walking two and striking out four in his five innings of work. After Hill, Francisco Butto closed out the Captains in the eighth and ninth. He didn’t allow a base runner, striking out two.

The Pelicans put a stamp on the game in their final two innings at the plate. Leandro led off the seventh with a single, and moved to second base on a pitch that escaped the catcher. After Kevin Reynolds singled, Leandro moved to third, and both men moved up a base when a pitch hit the backstop again, scoring Leandro.

The Pelicans iced the cake in the bottom of the eighth. Chase Burch started the frame with a walk, and Marcos Rodriguez doubled to push Burch to third. Dallas Christison hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that brought Burch home, and the 8-3 Pelicans’ lead would stand.

The Pelicans return to the playoffs for the first time since 2005, and will make their first appearance as part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. First-year manager Talmadge Nunnari will put his Pelicans on a bus to Fort Worth following this weekends’ games in order to face the Cats on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. In the meantime, the Pelicans will close out the regular season with a game on both Saturday and Sunday. Both contests are slated for 6:05 p.m.