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Myrtle Beach Pelicans rally for big win over Salem Red Sox

This one had all the elements of a clash between teams in the thick of a pennant race - right down to the late-inning drama.

Luis Sumoza started clapping his hands soon after leaving the batter's box as he watched his line drive fall into the right-center field gap, and his Pelicans teammates came pouring out of the dugout as Jordan Kreke raced around from second to score the winning run.

Sumoza's two-out single capped the comeback Tuesday night as the Pelicans rallied from a two-run deficit for a 3-2 win over the Salem Red Sox in front of 2,350 fans at BB&T Coastal Field.

"It's huge," Pelicans manager Rocket Wheeler said. "This is the series. This is our season right here."

The Pelicans entered the night 11/2 games behind Winston-Salem and Salem in the Carolina League's southern division standings. Winston-Salem already clinched its place in the postseason as the division's first-half champion, so the Red Sox are the team the Pelicans have to catch in the standings over the season's final two weeks.

First, they had to catch Salem on the scoreboard Tuesday night.

Trailing 2-0 after the top of the fourth, the Pelicans' rally started a couple innings later when catcher Matt Kennelly clubbed his fourth homer of the season - a line drive into the leftfield bleachers - to lead off the bottom of the sixth.

Sumoza tied the game the following inning with a two-out single past the diving glove of Salem second baseman Oscar Tejeda.

The Pelicans then stranded runners at second and third as Kennelly chopped back to Salem reliever Seth Garrison to end the seventh.

They had another chance in the eighth with a runner on second and two outs, but Mike Jones was called out on strikes to end the inning.

And they started the ninth with two outs before Kreke roped a double down the leftfield line, setting the stage for Sumoza's heroics.

It was fitting Sumoza smacked the deciding hit Tuesday night. He was originally signed by the Red Sox organization in 2004 and was traded to the Braves organization in 2008. But he downplayed any added significance.

"That was my teammates. But it's just a game, you know. It's just a game," he said.

A game the Pelicans [54-74 overall, 28-30 in the second half] needed to win.

Salem drops to 68-55, 26-27 with the loss.

Right-hander Paul Clemens turned in another strong start for Myrtle Beach.

He settled down after allowing two runs in the top of the fourth and retired the final six batters he faced before leaving the game. He held the Red Sox to two runs and five hits through six innings, while striking out six and walking three.

Clemens has gone at least five innings while allowing two runs or less in four straight starts. Yet, he remains winless in 24 games -- including six starts - for Myrtle Beach.

Reliever Jason Lowey, meanwhile, came through with a clutch strikeout to end the top of the ninth, whiffing Salem's Peter Hissey to strand runners at first and second.

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