Sixth Inning Rally Pushes 'Tees Past Dunedin, 6-5
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Trailing 5-3, the Brevard County Manatees struck for three runs in the top of the sixth inning to knock off the Dunedin Blue Jays, by a final of 6-5 on Sunday evening at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
After a single by Mike Garza and a double by Yadiel Rivera, Nathan Orf came to the plate with one out and Brevard County (2-2 second half, 38-32 overall) trailing by a pair. On a 1-0 pitch from reliever Justin Jackson, Orf sliced a line drive down the right field line and into the corner. Garza and Rivera jogged home with ease, as Orf's double knotted the game up at five apiece.
After an infield single by Orlando Arcia, it looked like Dunedin (2-2, 48-25) would escape with the game tied. Tyrone Taylor hit a tailor-made double play ball to short, but it took a wild hop and ricocheted off Emilo Guerrero and rolled behind him. Everyone was safe and Dunedin called on left-hander Tony Davis to face Nicky Delmonico.
On a 3-2 pitch, Delmonico lofted a fly ball to shallow center. It did not seem deep enough to score the run, but Orf decided to test Dalton Pompey regardless. Pompey's throw was short and off line, as Orf scored the go-ahead run and put Brevard back in front, 6-5.
The Manatees wasted no time getting on the board, as they tallied two runs in the first inning against Blue Jays starter Ben White (3-4, 5.01 ERA) Orf started the ball game with a single to left and advanced into scoring position on a ground out by Arcia. Taylor then served a single into left to bring home Orf for his team-leading 39th RBI of the year and put the 'Tees on top, 1-0.
Three batters later - with the bases loaded - Garza hit a slow roller back up the middle. Guerrero ranged behind the second base bag, but had no play as Taylor raced home to extend the lead to two.
However after every Manatee run, Dunedin answered back. The Blue Jays tied the game up with runs in the first and second inning courtesy of a RBI groundout off the bat of Marcus Knecht and a single by Gustavo Pierre, respectively.
Brevard took the lead right back on a run-scoring double from Michael Reed, but it was short lived, as a two-run shot off the bat of Pierre in the fourth gave Dunedin its first lead of the game, 4-3.
The Blue Jays brought home another run in the fifth on an RBI single by Guerrero, but that would be all the offense they would muster for the remainder of the game. Dunedin managed to get five runners on base over the course of the game's final four innings, but none crossed the plate.
Kevin Shackelford, who took over for starter Hobbs Johnson (8-6, 2.97) at the start of the sixth inning, played a huge role in keeping those runners right where they were.
After a leadoff single in the sixth, he induced a double play to put an immediate end to threat. Again in the eighth inning, with runners on second and third and one out, Shackelford struck out Christian Lopes and then got Dwight Smith, Jr. - who went 3-for-4 on Saturday - to ground out to second base to end the rally. Shackelford finished his evening right there, with four hits allowed in a season-high three innings pitched.
The Manatees relied on Mark Williams to close out the win and that is exactly what he did. Much like Shackelford, after a one-out single, Williams forced L.B. Dantzler to ground into a game-ending 6-3 double play, as he picked up his fourth Florida State League save of the year.
Despite not having his best stuff, Johnson was able to battle through five innings and pick up his eighth win of the year, which puts him in a three-way tie for the FSL lead. Johnson allowed five runs on eight hits to tie a season-high.
Johnson was bailed out by a strong offensive output. The Manatees recorded 13 hits against Dunedin pitching; with three players - Orf, Reed and Garza - all recording multiple hits. Orf had the best night of them all, as he reached base four times with two runs scored, two doubles, two RBI and got hit by an FSL-leading 12th pitch.
Brevard County will turn to Austin Ross (6-1, 2.75) - who defeated the Blue Jays this past Wednesday - as they take close out their three-game set with Dunedin on Monday morning at 11:00 a.m. The Blue Jays will counter with All-Star Taylor Cole (5-3, 2.60) in the rubber match of the series.
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