Ross Leads 'Tees in Sweep of Dunedin
VIERA, Fla. - Behind one of the longest starts of his career, Austin Ross helped the Brevard County Manatees to a 5-2 win over the Dunedin Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Space Coast Stadium, to complete to a three-game series sweep and close out the first half of the season.
Ross (6-1, 2.75 ERA) was dominant from the start and did not allow a Blue Jays hit or base runner through the first three innings. The starter struck out five batters in those three perfect frames.
Even after Ross allowed a single to Dwight Smith, Jr. to the start of the fourth, the righty went right back to overpowering Dunedin's hitters. Ross followed up the single with a double play ball and proceeded to set the next seven men down in order. In doing so, Ross faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings.
Despite allowing a one-out single and stolen base to Dalton Pompey, Ross also pitched a scoreless seventh as he worked into the eighth inning for the first time this year. He retired Santiago Nessy on a fly out to right to start the inning, but then ran into trouble.
The Manatees (36-30) held a 5-0 lead, but the Ross gave up back-to-back singles against Nick Baligod and Peter Mooney. Andy Fermin then laced a two-run double to right-center to cut Brevard's advantage to 5-2. Ross' night ended shortly thereafter, as he walked the next batter, Christian Lopes, to put runners on first and second with just one out.
Brevard County called on left-hander Stephen Peterson to get out of the jam and he did exactly that. Peterson wasted no time in inducing a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
That twin-killing closed the book on Ross, as his 7.1 innings pitched were a season-high and tied his career high. He struck out seven men, walked just one and surrendered two runs on five Dunedin (46-23) hits.
Peterson worked the ninth, as well. Though the southpaw walked the leadoff man, he finished off the Blue Jays with a ground out and two strikeouts to notch his second save of the year.
Brevard County scored all of its runs against Dunedin starter Taylor Cole in the third and fourth. With one out in the third, Parker Berberet dribbled an infield single in the grass to the third base side of the mound and Brandon Macias worked a walk. Two batters later, Orlando Arcia plated the first two runs of the ballgame on a ringing two-out double to left-center.
The Manatees quickly threatened in the fourth, as well. Back-to-back singles by Michael Reed and Yadiel Rivera, combined with a walk by Victor Roache, loaded the bases with nobody out. Alfredo Rodriguez then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Reed and moved Rivera to third, as the 'Tees extended their lead to 3-0.
After Cole struck out the next batter, Roache moved to second on a wild pitch to give the 'Tees a pair of runners in scoring position for Macias. The third baseman knocked in both Roache and Rivera with a single to left to put Brevard up 5-0.
With those five runs, Cole (5-3, 2.60) was hit with the loss. Cole struck out six over five innings to push his Minor League-leading strikeout total to 101. He also walked two and gave up seven hits in the defeat.
Brevard County finished the first half of the 2014 season with a 36-30 record and a winning mark of 5-4 against the Blue Jays, who won the Florida State League North Division in the first half.
The 'Tees begin the second half against the Daytona Cubs on Thursday night at Space Coast Stadium, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Damien Magnifico (3-4, 3.05) is scheduled to start for the 'Tees against Cubs right-hander Felix Pena (1-6, 2.59).
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