'Tees Upend Jays 7-4 with Six-Run Second
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Thanks to a six-run second inning, the Brevard County Manatees defeated the Dunedin Blue Jays, 7-4 in the rubber match of a three-game set on Monday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Already up 1-0, Victor Roache slammed the first pitch of the inning to deep right-center. Blue Jays right fielder Nick Baligod chased the ball all the way to the wall, but could not make the play. After some confusion, it was ruled that the ball got lodged in between the two levels of fencing for a ground rule double.
After a wild pitch advanced Roache to third and a two-out walk to Brandon Macias, Nathan Orf stepped up to the plate. Orf - who had already singled and scored a run to this point - slapped a base-hit into left field to score Roache and give the Manatees (3-2 second half, 39-32 overall) a 2-0 lead.
The onslaught continued as Orlando Arcia roped a 0-2 pitch into left field to drive home Macias and extend the early lead to three. Back-to-back walks to Tyrone Taylor and Michael Reed brought home another run, before a major defensive mishap blew the game wide open.
The next batter, Cameron Garfield hit a double play ground ball right at the third baseman Gustavo Pierre. However, the sharply hit ball rolled right between his legs and into left field. The error allowed Arcia and Taylor to cross the plate to give the Manatees a 6-0 lead. That was not the only error on the play, as left fielder Dwight Smith, Jr.'s throw to third base went wide, which allowed both Reed and Garfield to advance an extra base.
Brevard tallied its final run of the rally on a wild pitch from Dunedin starter Taylor Cole (5-4, 2.86 ERA), which allowed Reed to score the 'Tees seventh and final run of the game.
That offensive explosion was all Manatees starter Austin Ross (7-1, 2.98) needed to lock down a victory. The right-hander was phenomenal as he faced just one over the minimum through the first five innings.
However as Ross tired, the Blue Jays (2-3, 48-26) made the game interesting down the stretch. After a run scored on a wild pitch and a RBI single by L.B. Dantzler trimmed the lead to 7-3 in the sixth, Dunedin made Brevard sweat as they put the tying run on base in the eighth.
After Ross retired Gustavo Pierre to start the inning, the Blue Jays slapped three consecutive singles to load the bases. Stephen Peterson was the called on out of the bullpen and struggled to find the strike zone out of the gate. The left-hander walked Dantzler on four pitches to force home a run and all of a sudden the Manatees' seven run lead was down to three.
With the tying run now on first base and the go-ahead run at the plate, Peterson dug deep and summoned his best stuff. The southpaw made Kevin Patterson look foolish as he struck out him out on a slider tailing off the outside corner for out number two. On a 2-2 pitch to the next batter, Baligod, it was first baseman Alfredo Rodriguez who made the play of the game.
Baligod hit a slow tapper up the first base line and Rodriguez raced towards the ball. However, with no one to cover first, Rodriguez had to beat Baligod in a foot race to record the out. With both players neck and neck, Rodriguez made a head-long dive and slapped the base with his glove before Baligod's foot touched to record the third and final out of the inning.
Mark Williams, who picked up the save on Sunday, came out the bullpen and dominated the Blue Jays to record his fifth Florida State League save of the year. The right-hander retired all three batters he faced, including a strike out of Santiago Nessy, to close out the victory.
Despite the disappointing end to his outing, Ross tied a career-high by going 7.1 innings en route to his seventh victory of the season. He allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out three without walking a single hitter. With the strong performance, Ross is now tied for second in the FSL in WHIP at 1.02.
Brevard tallied double-digit hits for the second straight day. Four players - Orf, Arcia, Roache and Yadiel Rivera - all had multi-hit games in the win. Rivera finished the day with a team-high three hits, including a ground-rule double and a stolen base. The middle infielder now has a four-game hit streak, during which he is hitting .500 (8-for-16).
The Manatees will look to continue their winning ways on Tuesday night, as they return home to Space Coast Stadium and open a three-game series against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (1-3, 43-28) at 6:35 p.m. It will be a battle of North Division All-Stars as Damien Magnifico (3-4, 3.26) will face off against fellow righty Kevin Eichhorn (4-1, 1.93).
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