September 10, 2009 - Florida State League (FSL) - Fort Myers Miracle
FORT MYERS -- What the Fort Myers Miracle wouldn't have given to trade one of their 80 wins in the regular season for a victory on Thursday night. But it wasn't to be as the Charlotte Stone Crabs took two straight to eliminate the Miracle and advance to the league championship. David Newmann struck out ten in a 3-2 Charlotte win.
Charlotte had struck first the night before in the second inning and Thursday was no exception. After rain delayed the start for an hour and thirty minutes, the Stone Crabs jumped on Santos Arias for two runs on a single swing from catcher Mike McCormick. His line-drive single to left brought Henry Wrigley and John Matulia around. Charlotte plated one more on a Deibinson Romero fielding error in the fifth inning.
But the visitors would not score again after Bobby Lanigan turned in a clutch performance in the face of elimination. Lanigan entered in the top of the sixth and limited the Stone Crabs to just one hit. He struck out one in four scoreless frames to keep hope alive after the team went 20-11 during the regular season in games decided in the final inning and 28-19 in one-run games.
Yet one night after stranding nine on base, history repeated itself and Fort Myers left seven against a Charlotte pitching staff that racked up a staggering 31 strikeouts in the short series, an average of ten per game. Lefty David Newmann (1-0) matched that average by himself with six innings of four-hit, one-run ball. He walked one and fanned ten in a dominating performance that featured a steady diet of curveballs for his opponents.
Newmann (1-0) was rocked in his pro debut back on April 11 at Charlotte Sports Park. The Miracle tagged him for seven earned on seven hits in just three innings. But ever since that start, he has been especially tough against the Miracle, with a record of 2-0, three no-decisions, and an ERA of 2.51. Against the Miracle in that stretch, he walked almost three per nine and fanned more than nine per nine innings pitched.
Arias (0-1) lost for just the second time to Charlotte in seven total appearances. He gave up two earned on four hits in five innings. He was also charged with an unearned run and finished the day with four walks against three strikeouts.
Richard de Los Santos recorded a save -- his second in as many games -- with two and one-third innings of work. He gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out four. His pickoff of Ben Revere at first to end the eighth inning quashed a rally that had already resulted in a two-out run. Tommy Rafferty surrendered a run in two-thirds with two hits and two strikeouts in middle relief.
Revere was 2-for-3 with two RBI in a losing effort. Jair Fernandez was 2-for-4 with a run scored. He missed a home run by mere inches in the fifth inning on a line drive to straightaway center that improbably bounced off the top of the fence and came back into play. Fernandez settled for a double and came in to score on a Revere single.
No Stone Crab recorded more than one hit.
For Fort Myers, high expectations after coming up short in the 2008 finals and a record-setting 2009 were dashed, while Charlotte will head to the finals in the team's inaugural season. The Stone Crabs will meet the Tampa Yankees, which swept Brevard County two games to none, at Steinbrenner Field on Friday night for game one of five in the Florida State League Championship Series.