Pelicans rally to win series, open title defense tonight

pel-sclsThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans are going for a Carolina League championship repeat.

The Pelicans came from behind late to rally by the Salem Red Sox 2-1 and claim their third consecutive Southern Division Championship Series win Friday at LewisGale Field.

Myrtle Beach (2-1) will advance to the Mills Cup Championship Series, where they will take on the Lynchburg Hillcats in a best-of-five series.  Myrtle Beach will open Game 1 of the Mills Cup Finals Saturday at 6:05 p.m. against the Lynchburg Hillcats at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. RHP Erick Leal is scheduled to make the start for the Pelicans. Tickets are still available on www.MyrtleBeachPelicans.com. Television coverage of Game 1 begins at 6 p.m. on the CW21 in Myrtle Beach.

Salem (1-2) led 1-0 in the top of the seventh when Jeffrey Baez singled with one out. Andrew Ely bunted Baez to second before the Red Sox brought in Yankory Pimentel (0-1) out of the bullpen. The Pelicans countered with pinch-hitter Daniel Spingola, who lined a single to left to score Baez and tie the game at one.

With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the eighth, Donnie Dewees singled to right with one out before David Bote drew a walk. After Yasiel Balaguert reached on an infield single to load the bases, Salem turned to Simon Mercedes to pitch. After getting Ian Rice to pop out, Mercedes issued a wild pitch to the backstop, allowing Dewees to score, giving Myrtle Beach a 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, Salem began the inning with a leadoff double from Rafael Devers before Nick Longhi bunted him to third. After a walk put runners at the corners with one out, Myrtle Beach brought in closer Ryan McNeil. The right-hander induced a fly out and ground out to escape the jam and hold on to the 2-1 Pelicans’ advantage.

McNeil worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to earn the Pelicans the win and pick up the save.

Both starters came out of the gates putting up zeroes. With the game still scoreless in the bottom of the fifth, Salem left fielder Jayce Ray hit a base hit to center before Jose Sermo singled him to third. Jordan Procyshen then rolled a soft grounder down the third base line. The Pelicans had no play as Ray scored on the infield single to give Salem a 1-0 lead.

Still in the fifth, a sacrifice bunt and Jeremy Rivera infield single loaded the bases with one out. Joseph Monge then hit a comebacker on a check swing to Pelicans starter Duane Underwood, who fired home to start a 1-2-3 double play and keep the score at 1-0.

That ended the night for Underwood, who allowed just that one run over five innings. He retired 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced before that eventful fifth inning. From there, Pelicans relievers Tommy Thorpe and Tommy Nance (1-0) bridged the gap between Underwood and McNeil with 2.1 scoreless frames out of the bullpen.

Salem starter Matt Kent worked 6.2 innings of one-run ball, surrendering only four hits while striking out five.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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