Brevard Falls in Series Opener at Fort Myers, 7-4
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Tim Shibuya pitched a gem and Niko Goodrum delivered late at the dish to drive the Fort Myers Miracle past the Brevard County Manatees, 7-4 on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.
Typically a ground ball pitcher, Shibuya (7-3, 3.13 ERA) was true to form. He held the Manatees (15-10 second half, 51-40 overall) to just one run over seven innings with the help of four double plays. The starter also struck out five men, including the first four men he faced, allowed seven hits and walked one.
Shibuya's shot at a victory was in jeopardy late, but his shortstop and nine-hitter picked him up. With Fort Myers (19-9, 60-37) clinging to a 3-1 edge in the sixth, Goodrum came up with two outs and two on.
Manatees starter Jorge Lopez had his pitch-count running up over 100 in his first game back since pitching in the MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday and Goodrum was likely the last man he would face. Goodrum had two strikes against him, but turned on a pitch from Lopez (8-5, 3.54 ERA) and drilled a high fly ball over the right field wall. The home run ended the night for Lopez and pushed the Miracle's lead to 6-1.
The Manatees nearly stormed back again in the eighth when Michael Reed smashed a three-run home run over the left field wall against reliever B.J. Hermsen that made the score 6-4, Fort Myers. The next half-inning, however, Goodrum was there again to bail the Miracle out. With Stuart Turner on first, he ripped a single to right that scored the runner. That knock gave Fort Myers a 7-4 lead and helped secure the win for Shibuya.
Before Goodrum's late-game surge, Fort Myers started early with the bats. Adam Brett Walker opened the scoring when he smoked a two run double down the left field line in the third. Manatees left fielder Victor Roache had trouble with the ball and threw wild to the plate, which allowed Walker to move to third base. Mike Gonzales then pushed the Miracle's lead to 3-0 with an RBI single to right.
The 'Tees responded in the fourth. Nathan Orf smacked a double to lead things off and Reed singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out. After Shibuya induced a fly out, Mike Garza put Brevard on the board with a single to right that scored Orf.
The Manatees had a big chance to cut further into the lead in the fourth, but could not capitalize. With runners on first and second, Roache hit a ground ball back to the mound. Shibuya fielded the ball and turned to throw to first base. Both Miracle middle infielders, Goodrum and Jorge Polanco, arrived at the bag and Shibuya's throw kicked off Goodrum's glove.
Goodrum was charged with the error and the 'Tees had the bases loaded for Alfredo Rodriguez. Shibuya remained composed, though, and produced another ground ball to the rubber. The pitcher threw home for the first out and Turner threw to first to complete the inning-ending double play. It was Shibuya's second double play of the game, after he had manufactured one in the third, and it kept Fort Myers ahead, 3-1.
Brevard County had another shot at Shibuya in the top of the sixth, but the starter's third double play suppressed that threat. The Manatees had Orf on first following a leadoff single and Reed hit a ground ball to third. Aderling Mejia threw to Polanco to force out Orf, but the runner made a hard slide into the bag and Polanco's throw to first went wild. The ball bounced out of play and Reed moved up to second.
After Taylor grounded a single, the Manatees had runners on the corners with one out. Garza came to the plate with the tying runs on, but hit into 4-3 twin-killing to get the Miracle out of the jam.
The seventh inning brought another Manatees rally and yet another Shibuya double play. Roache ripped a double to start the frame and Rodriguez walked to put a pair on. Garrett Cooper, however, rolled a ground ball to shortstop and Goodrum turned two to end the inning and complete Shibuya's outing with the starter's fourth and final double play.
Right-hander Todd Van Steensel came in for the ninth and completed the win to record his first Florida State League save. Van Steensel issued a one-out walk, but was able to seal the victory by inducing a fly out to center and a ground out to second to end the ballgame.
Lopez took the loss for Brevard County. He pitched 5.2 innings and allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits. The starter struck out three and walked three in the losing effort.
Orf was the hottest-hitting Manatee on the evening. He led Brevard with three hits in five trips to the plate. The second baseman singled twice, doubled and scored a pair of runs. Reed was the only other Manatee with multiple hits, as he went 2-for-4 with the three-run homer in the eighth and a single.
Sunday's game marked the return to the Manatees lineup for Cooper. The first baseman had been transferred to Class-A Wisconsin in June and then went to the Rookie Arizona League for a spell before being sent back to Brevard County on Friday. Cooper went 1-for-4 in his first game back.
The Manatees are 0-4 against Fort Myers, but get another crack at the Miracle on Monday night. First pitch at Hammond Stadium is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Austin Ross (7-2, 3.12 ERA) is the probable starter for Brevard County against lefty Matt Tomshaw (8-2, 2.88 ERA).
For more information on the Brevard County Manatees, call (321) 633-9200 or go online to ManateesBaseball.com. Also, don't forget to like the Manatees on Facebook and follow the Manatees both on Twitter and Instagram.
• Discuss this story on the Florida State League message board...
Florida State League Stories from July 20, 2014
- Cubs Rout Cardinals in Series Opener - Palm Beach Cardinals
- Bichette, Jagielo Blast T-Yanks to 4-1 Win - Tampa Yankees
- Brevard Falls in Series Opener at Fort Myers, 7-4 - Brevard County Manatees
- Goodrum Picks up Four RBI in 7-4 Victory - Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
- Leiter Dominates Stone Crabs in 5-0 Victory - Clearwater Threshers
- Leiter Hurls Complete Game Shutout in 5-0 Threshers Win - Charlotte Stone Crabs
- Mets Rally for Improbable 8-6 Win over Manatees - St. Lucie Mets