Long Ball Bests 'Tees Again in 9-6 Loss to Marauders
BRADENTON, Fla. - For the second straight night, the Brevard County Manatees were burned by a late-inning home run. Jordan Steranka's three-run shot in the seventh pushed the Bradenton Marauders to a 9-6 victory at McKechnie Field on Monday night.
To start the frame, Walker Gourley attempted to reach on a bunt. Reliever Scott Lieser's throw to first was wild, which allowed Gourley to advance to second.
Jose Osuna attempted to sacrifice the runner to third and laid down a bunt to the third base side. Lieser tried to get the lead runner at third, but Gourley slid in safely. Osuna was in at first on the fielder's choice to put runners at the corners.
That brought up the clean-up hitter, Steranka. On a 1-2 pitch, the left-handed slugger cranked a ball onto the boardwalk in right-center for a three-run home run. It was Steranka's seventh homer of the year and it gave Bradenton (27-16 second half, 62-50 overall) the lead for good, 9-6.
The Manatees (20-20, 56-50) initially held a 6-4 lead going to the bottom of the sixth when right-hander Tyler Spurlin came out of the bullpen to make his Florida State League-debut.
His outing started shaky, as Max Moroff lined a double into shallow left to start the frame. Eric Wood then hit a slow roller towards second. Alfredo Rodriguez charged in, but bobbled the ball and had no play to put the tying runners on base.
First baseman Mike Garza then made a heads up play on a ground ball hit by Justin Howard. The Georgetown product caught Moroff leaning off third base and threw on to third baseman Brandon Macias. Moroff broke for home, but Macias' throw to catcher Cameron Garfield was in time for out number one.
However, both runners were alert. With the focus on the play at the plate, both Wood and Howard advanced to second and third on the throw.
One batter later, Macias would rob a hit with spectacular play. Jacob Stallings smoked one down the third base line, but the former Kansas Jayhawk made a tremendous, diving backhand stop. Wood scored easily from third on the throw to first, but there was now two down.
The lead did not last much longer, as Justin Maffei came through with the game-tying blow. On a full count, the number nine hitter slapped a ball into right field. Michael Reed came up with a strong throw, but it was up the third base line. Howard scored safely to knot the game up at six.
Spurlin's FSL debut lasted only one inning. Making his first appearance since July 18 with Class-A Wisconsin, the righty allowed two unearned runs on two hits.
Behind 4-2, Brevard County grabbed the lead when they sent nine to the plate in the top of the fifth. Against Marauders' starter Chad Kuhl (11-5, 3.52), Nathan Orf started the rally with a double to left.
With one out, Tyrone Taylor hit a roller to third. Wood backed up to try and make the play, but the ball ate him up. Orf stayed at second and Taylor was safe at first to represent the tying runs.
After Reed got plunked, Garfield pushed a run across. The 'Tees backstop lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home Orf and cut the lead to one.
On the relay, Marauders first baseman Jose Osuna cut the ball off and tried to catch Taylor, who was trying to tag up to third. His throw was wild and got past Wood. Taylor was safe and Reed advanced to second on the error.
The inning would only get more bizarre from there. Following a walk to Victor Roache to load the bases, Garza hit a ground ball to third.
Wood fielded and threw a high to first. As Osuna jumped in the air to try and corral the ball, Garza slid head first into first base. The Venezuelan native tried to slap the tag on the diving runner, but had no luck. Garza was in there and Taylor scored to tie the game.
That was the end for Kuhl, as Bradenton manager Tom Prince called on right-hander Ryan Hafner out of the bullpen. The reliever struggled with his control, as he allowed two inherited runners to score on a walk and a wild pitch.
Kuhl, who entered the game tied with the Tyler Wagner for the league-lead in wins with 11, did not factor into the final decision. The former Delaware Blue Hen walked five Manatees and allowed six runs - only two earned - in his 4.2 innings of work.
After allowing four runs in the first two innings, Brevard starter Damien Magnifico (7-6, 3.90) finished the game with a flourish. The right-hander did not allow a hit over his final three frames, just issuing two baserunners on walks.
Magnifico left in line for the win, but ended up not factoring into the decision, either. The Texas native yielded four runs - three earned - on five hits over five innings.
Brevard finished the night with nine hits. Three players - Orf, Taylor and Rodriguez - recorded multi-hit performances. The active league-leader in batting average, Orf, led the charge with three hits. The Baylor grad also doubled twice and scored three runs.
The Manatees will hit the next stop on their eight-game road trip tomorrow, as they travel to Tampa to take on the Yankees (21-22, 54-59). First pitch at George M. Steinbrenner Field is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Jorge Lopez (8-7, 4.09) will get the start for Brevard against Tampa's right-hander Brett Gerritse (3-6, 4.26).
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