Manatees Lead Early, Fall Late at Fort Myers
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A couple of quick, fourth-inning runs by the Brevard County Manatees were enough to take an early lead, but not enough to beat the Fort Myers Miracle. The Miracle rebounded to defeat the 'Tees at Hammond Stadium on Monday night, 4-2.
Brevard County (15-11 second half, 51-41 overall) grabbed the first runs of the game against Fort Myers (20-9, 61-37) starter Matt Tomshaw. After Tomshaw issued a one-out walk to Cameron Garfield in the fourth, Victor Roache roped a single to put a pair on. Mike Garza then came through with a double to score Garfield and put the 'Tees on top. Garrett Cooper followed suit with a sacrifice fly to bring Roache home and push the lead to 2-0.
That was all the Manatees could muster against Tomshaw, however, and in the bottom of the fourth, Fort Myers' bats came alive. Manatees starter Austin Ross recorded the first two outs of the inning, but Dalton Hicks smacked a single to keep the inning alive.
Adam Brett Walker came up next and the Florida State League leader in homers and RBI delivered. He drove a double off the center field wall to score Hicks and cut the Miracle deficit to one run. Mike Gonzales then peppered the left field wall with a two-bagger to tie the score at 2-2.
Fort Myers rallied again in the sixth. Now at the end of his line, Ross (7-3, 3.38 ERA) sandwiched a single between a pair of walks to begin the inning. The last free pass to Walker knocked Ross out of the game and the 'Tees called on lefty Mike Strong with the bases loaded, nobody out and the score knotted.
Strong fared well, but could not keep the Miracle from taking the lead. Gonzales broke his bat on a grounder to third base and Greg Hopkins threw to second for the out, but the Manatees could not roll the double play. The RBI fielder's choice allowed Travis Harrison to score the go-ahead run and Stuart Turner added to the lead with an RBI single to right field. Strong did not allow another run that inning, but the Miracle still held a 4-2 advantage.
Brevard had two big chances to come back in the seventh and ninth, but could not quite get there. After Tomshaw (9-2, 2.87 ERA) got the first two 'Tees out in the sixth, the starter issued back-to-back walks to Nathan Orf and Michael Reed.
The left-hander then got Tyrone Taylor to ground to third, but Aderling Mejia bobbled the ball to load the bases and keep the inning alive. Tomshaw's night was over after the error, but reliever Brian Gilbert came in and struck out Hopkins looking to end the inning and preserve the two-run lead for Fort Myers.
Once again, the Manatees had a shot at a comeback in the ninth. Brandon Macias worked a leadoff walk and Orf singled to put the tying run on base. Gilbert, however, induced a 6-4-3 double play and a subsequent ground out to end the ballgame.
Gilbert picked up his fifth save of the season in 2.1 innings of work. The right-hander struck out four, issued one walk and allowed just one hit.
The reliever's work sealed Tomshaw's ninth victory of the season. Tomshaw went 6.2 innings and allowed both the Manatees' runs on five hits. Brevard struck out three times against the lefty and walked three times.
Ross took the loss in his first official start since July 6. The righty surrendered four runs on six hits through five innings of work. Ross also issued a season-high four walks and struck out two.
The 'Tees have now lost each of their last three games and are 0-5 against the Miracle. Brevard County faces Fort Myers again on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Tyler Wagner (9-4, 1.71 ERA) is set to pitch for the Manatees against Ethan Mildren (1-0, 6.75 ERA).
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