Brevard Lets Two Leads Slip, Loses in 12 to Miracle
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Brevard County Manatees had the game in hand twice, but ended up losing in 12 innings to the Fort Myers Miracle on Tuesday night at Hammond Stadium, 7-6.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth, Brevard County (15-12 second half, 51-42 overall) held a 4-0 lead, thanks to seven shutout innings by Tyler Wagner. After Wagner exited, however, Fort Myers (21-9, 62-37) pounced.
Tyler Grimes led off the inning with a double off of reliever Martin Viramontes. With two outs, Jorge Polanco slammed a double of his own to cut the Manatees' lead to 4-1.
Fort Myers threatened to add more, but Mark Williams came in to stop the bleeding. After he walked Dalton Hicks to load the bases, Williams induced an inning-ending double play to preserve the three-run advantage.
In the ninth, however, the Miracle got to Williams. After a leadoff walk to Mike Gonzales and a one-out free pass to Niko Goodrum, Grimes ripped an RBI double to cut the Miracle's deficit to two runs.
Williams exited after the double and Stephen Peterson entered in an attempt to close out the game. Aderling Mejia, however, cut further into Brevard's lead with an RBI ground out that scored Goodrum and pulled Fort Myers within one run. Grimes moved up to third on the ground out and Peterson walked Polanco to bring Travis Harrison to the plate. Harrison smoked a single up the middle to score Grimes and tie the game.
The ballgame went to extra innings and the 'Tees got what, at the time, looked like a game-deciding hit. After Peterson left the winning run on third in the bottom of the 10th, Brevard rallied with two outs in the top of the 11th.
Alfredo Rodriguez doubled off of reliever Madison Boer and Greg Hopkins worked a walk. Brandon Macias came up with the outfielders playing in to cut off the run at the plate, but the number nine hitter drove a ball over the head of Grimes in center. Rodriguez and Hopkins both scored to give the Manatees a 6-4 lead. Macias, however, was thrown out on a 9-4-5 relay, as he tried to stretch his double into a triple.
For the second time in the game, Brevard had a chance to beat Fort Myers. Left-hander Trevor Seidenberger came in to pitch the bottom of the 11th, but promptly gave up a walk to Mejia. After Seidenberger struck out Polanco, Harrison hit a broken-bat grounder to second and Mejia made a cerebral baserunning play that kept the ballgame alive.
Nathan Orf fielded Harrison's grounder at second and went to tag Mejia. The runner, however, stopped and backpedalled toward first. Orf eventually tagged Mejia, but had no time to complete the double play at first, as Harrison reached safely. If the 'Tees had turned two there, the ballgame would have been over.
Mejia's baserunning allowed Hicks to come to the plate as the tying run with two outs in the 11th. The left-handed hitter came through with a towering, two-run home run over the right field wall that tied the game again, 6-6.
Fort Myers finally put the Manatees away in the 12th. Seidenberger gave up a leadoff double to Gonzales and Stuart Turner sacrificed the winning run over to third base with a bunt. The Manatees brought the infield in for Goodrum, but Seidenberger worked around the switch-hitter and eventually put him on with a walk.
With runners on the corners and one out, Fort Myers called on a surprise pinch runner. Sunday's starting pitcher, Tim Shibuya, entered the game to pinch run for Gonzales with Grimes coming to the plate. After Goodrum moved to second on defensive indifference, Grimes took the ballgame into his own hands.
The 'Tees still had the infield in and Grimes pulled a line drive. Macias dove, but the ball went past his outstretched glove and into left field. Shibuya came home with the game-winning run and the 'Tees fell for the fourth time in a row.
Left-hander Steven Gruver picked up the win after pitching a scoreless top of the 12th. Gruver (2-5, 3.05 ERA) allowed one hit and walked the batter, but left the potential go-ahead run on second base to preserve the tie score.
Seidenberger took his first Florida State League loss. The lefty allowed three runs, the two-run homer by Hicks that tied the game and the walk-off single by Grimes, over 1.1 innings. Seidenberger (0-1) surrendered three hits, walked two men and struck out a pair.
Lost in the heartbreaking defeat was the tremendous pitching performance of Wagner. Brevard County's starter pitched seven scoreless innings and only allowed four hits. Wagner struck out four and walked two. He also maintained the best ERA in the FSL at 1.61.
Since June 9, the starter has allowed just two runs over 41.1 innings for a remarkable 0.44 ERA. Wagner, however, saw his five-start winning streak snapped after the 'Tees gave up the lead in the ninth.
Brevard County will try to salvage a game from the Miracle on Wednesday morning. The 'Tees have lost all six meetings against Fort Myers and will get one more shot at the first-half south division champs with an 11:35 a.m. first pitch. Hobbs Johnson (9-6, 2.80 ERA) will get the ball for Brevard against Brett Lee (6-2, 1.85 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.
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