April 5, 2013 - Florida State League (FSL) - Clearwater Threshers
DUNEDIN (Thursday, April 4): The Clearwater Threshers couldn't complete a ninth-inning comeback and fell 4-2 to the Dunedin Blue Jays on Thursday in an Opening Day 2013 matchup.
The Threshers (0-1) put the tying run on first base with two outs in the ninth inning, but were unable to bring him home in their first game against local rival Dunedin (1-0). The two teams open the season with a four-game commuter series.
Dunedin opened the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning against Clearwater starter Hoby Milner (0-1) with a leadoff homer from Jon Berti. The Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out, and back-to-back RBI singles from Kevin Patterson and Michael Crouse made the lead 3-0. Milner was able to escape the inning by inducing a 1-2-3 double play.
The Threshers answered in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, designated hitter Harold Martinez cracked a double to left field off Dunedin starter Jesse Hernandez (1-0), and promptly swiped third base. Catcher Logan Moore tapped a groundout to shortstop that allowed Martinez to scamper home and score the first run of the season for the Threshers, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
The Blue Jays made up the run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Gabe Jacobo led off with a line-drive single to left off Threshers reliever Ryan O'Sullivan, and moved to second on a single from Marcus Knecht. Patterson came through again for Dunedin with an RBI double to right that scored Jacobo and gave the home team a 4-1 lead.
Clearwater earned back that tally in the top of the seventh inning. First baseman Chris Serritella hammered a leadoff double that one-hopped off the left field wall, and advanced to third on a wild pitch by reliever Marco Grifantini. With one out, right fielder Cameron Perkins pushed a grounder to the right side of the infield, scoring Serritella and slicing the lead to 4-2.
That was as close as the Threshers would get, despite a ninth-inning rally. Third baseman Maikel Franco notched a one-out single, and moved up to second with two outs on an infield hit by Perkins. Left fielder Aaron Altherr hammered a ball to deep center field, but Jonathan Jones was able to get underneath it and put it away for the final out.
Milner took the loss, having tossed 4.1 innings and allowed three runs on six hits and three walks; he fanned three. O'Sullivan gave up a run on three hits in 1.2 innings pitched. Mike Nesseth threw two scoreless frames, allowing three hits and striking out two.
Hernandez earned the win with six solid innings, surrendering one run on two hits and two walks while striking out six. Grifantini gave up a run on one hit and struck out one in his lone inning of action. Tony Davis tossed a perfect frame of relief, striking out two. Blake McFarland gave up two hits but didn't allow a run in his inning of work, getting the save.
The Threshers and Blue Jays tangle again Friday night from Bright House Field, where the Threshers will have fireworks to celebrate Opening Day after the game. It's also a Tampa Bay Times Family Pack night! Fans can get four tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of chips and four sodas, all for just $28 with a coupon from the Tampa Bay Times! Game time is at 6:30 p.m., with gates opening at 5 p.m. Tickets are still available at ThreshersBaseball.com, or by calling the box office at 727-467-4457.