Homers derail 'Tees in 6-2 loss to Clearwater
CLEARWATER, Fla. - A pair of two-run home runs in the fourth inning sparked the Clearwater Threshers to victory over the Brevard County Manatees, 6-2 on Saturday night at Bright House Field.
The Manatees (31-30 second half, 67-60 overall) held a 1-0 lead with one out in the fourth before starter Tyler Wagner (13-6, 1.91 ERA) ran into trouble.
Art Charles walked to put a runner on and Brian Pointer ripped a line drive to deep right field. The ball carried over the fence for Pointer's 15th long ball of the season and Clearwater (28-35, 45-86) took the lead, 2-1.
The Threshers were not done yet, as Harold Martinez followed the gopher ball with a laser off the bottom of the wall in center. The ball kicked away from Tyrone Taylor, which allowed Martinez to end up at third with a stand-up triple.
Chris Serritella, who hit a three-run home run in the first inning of game one on Friday, then put a charge into one to deep right. The 0-2 pitch carried well over the wall for Clearwater's second two-run shot of the frame. The blast was Serritella's sixth homer of the year and the Threshers had a 4-1 advantage.
Clearwater pushed across its final two runs off Wagner in the fifth. After Roman Quinn walked and Jesmuel Valentin singled to start the frame, J.P. Crawford ripped a line drive into right-center field. The ball split Taylor and Michael Reed and rolled to the wall. Both runners came across to score on the double by Crawford to extend the lead to 6-1.
Wagner's night ended after that inning. Statistically, the Las Vegas native had his worst start of the season. Wagner issued a season-worst six runs on season-high-tying eight hits in his five innings. He walked two and struck out seven. Tonight's outing was just the second start since June 3 in which Wagner allowed more than one earned run.
His counterpart, Kevin Walter (2-3, 4.61) worked through a shaky first inning to baffle the 'Tees over his final four innings. The right-hander, making just his third start of the year, allowed just one hit in his final four frames.
In total, Walter allowed one run on three hits, walked two and punched out three to record his second consecutive victory. As a starter this year, Walter is now 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
Brevard County pushed across a run against reliever Aaron Baker in the seventh, but could not pull any closer.
With one out, Alfredo Rodriguez was hit by a pitch and Mike Garza singled to center to put runners at first and second. After a Brandon Macias ground out, Nathan Orf grounded a single to center to score Rodriguez and move Garza to third to trim the lead to 6-2.
Ulises Joaquin then came out of the bullpen to close the door for the home team. The right-hander sat down seven of the eight batters he faced to finish off Clearwater's victory and his seventh Florida State League save of the year.
The 'Tees bats showed life in defeat, as they tallied eight hits on the evening. Garza led the offense with a 3-for-4 night, which included a double of Joaquin in the ninth. Arcia and Reed had multi-hit games, as well. Arcia went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored on Reed's RBI single to center in the first.
Scott Lieser pitched beautifully for the Manatees in relief. In three innings of work, the Minnesota native shutout the Threshers and allowed just two hits. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.
The second of Lieser's hits was erased on an incredible defensive play by Victor Roache. With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Pointer hit a sinking line drive into the left-center field gap. Roache ranged to his left and made a gorgeous head-long dive to make the catch. Charles, who doubled a batter earlier, was caught too far off second base. Roache staggered to his feet and made a strong throw onto Orf at second to double off the runner and end the inning.
Brevard County will go for the series victory against Clearwater tomorrow afternoon with first pitch at Bright House Field scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Southpaw Hobbs Johnson (11-8, 3.09) gets the start for the 'Tees against right-hander Miguel Nunez (5-7, 4.82).
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