Blue Jays Rally with Six-Run Eighth Inning
Just five outs from a lopsided 5-1 loss in the opener of a four-game set with the Florida Fire Frogs, the Dunedin Blue Jays came alive in the bottom of the eighth inning of Saturday night's game, scoring six times on five hits and four walks to earn an improbable 7-5 win.
Florida jumped out to an early lead over Dunedin, putting a run on the board in the top of the first. Anfernee Seymour doubled to lead off the game and came in to score on a single by Justin Ellison after moving to third on a groundout.
An inning later, Florida added three more runs in the second. After a one out hit by pitch, Seymour rolled a grounder to 2B Cavan Biggio that looked like a routine double-play ball, but Biggio was unable to field the ball cleanly, putting runners on first and second. Back-to-back singles by Braxton Davidson and Brett Cumberland extended Florida's lead to 4-0. The inning could have been worse for Dunedin, but Biggio redeemed himself with two outs by making a tremendous diving stop of a grounder headed to rightfield for the third out of the inning.
The Jays took one run back in the bottom of the second. C Michael De La cruz drew one of the six walks the Blue Jays took on the day with one out, advanced on a walk by LF Jake Thomas, and scored on a single by CF D.J. Davis .
The Fire Frogs used two singles and a walk to add an additional run to their lead in the fourth inning off Dunedin starter Jordan Romano . Romano went 5.0 innings for the Jays, allowing seven hits and five runs, just two of which were earned. Romano walked three and struck out six.
Florida seemed to be on cruise control until starter Enderson Franco handed the ball off to the bullpen with two outs in the seventh inning. Franco had a stellar outing, working 6.2 innings and allowing just one run while striking out five.
With Franco out of the game, the Blue Jays came alive in the eight inning. DH Max Pentecost singled with one out to start the rally. 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. worked a walk to put two runners on. A single by RF Connor Panas scored Pentecost and a triple by 1B Juan Kelly pulled the Blue Jay within one run of the Fire Frogs' lead.
De La Cruz immediately tied the game with a single up the middle. Thomas drew another walk before Davis drove in the go-ahead run with a single down the line in left field. An intentional walk to Biggio loaded the bases and a walk to Pentecost forced in another run to put Dunedin up 7-5.
When the dust had cleared, seven consecutive batters had reached base for Dunedin in the inning and the first six to reach had scored.
The Blue Jays bullpen was strong in relief of Romano. LHP Dan Lietz threw scoreless sixth and seventh innings. Jackson McClelland struck out the side in the top of the eighth, stranding Alejandro Salazar at third after he singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
In the ninth, the Fire Frogs put runners at second and third, but a pair of strikeouts by McClelland and a flyout preserved the lead and the victory.
The win is Dunedin's 19th comeback win this season and improves their record at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium to 14-2 in the season's second half, by far the best record in the league. The Blue Jays still sit in second place in the North, 4.5 games behind the surging Tampa Yankees who have won 11 straight. They also sit 2.0 games behind Clearwater in overall season record, which would serve as the playoff tiebreaker if Tampa, the North's first half champion, were to also win the second half.
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Florida State League Stories from July 30, 2017
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