Worth the Wait: a Marauders Season to Remember
On the heels of a cancelled 2020 Minor League Baseball season, the 2021 Marauders season proved worth the wait.
The Marauders posted the highest winning percentage in team history during the regular season-.597, with a 71-48 record-then swept the Tampa Tarpons in the first-ever Low-A Southeast League Championship Series in September, giving Bradenton its second league title in team history.
After splitting the opening series with Fort Myers in early May, the Marauders' first road trip of the season took the team to Clearwater to face the temporarily-displaced Dunedin Blue Jays. On Saturday, May 15, four Marauders pitchers-Jose Maldonado, Cameron Junker, Brennan Malone, and Wandi Montout-teamed up for a combined no-hitter, the first nine-inning no-no in Marauders history. Although Bradenton hurlers allowed a combined six walks in the game, no Blue Jays baserunner advanced past second base, and the four men struck out 11 Dunedin batters in the victory.
Perhaps the biggest turning point of the season came in late May. After suffering their first series loss of the season May 18 to 23 against Lakeland, the Marauders bounced back for a six-game sweep of the Palm Beach Cardinals at LECOM Park to finish the month. That kicked off a season-best nine-game win streak and a stretch of five straight series wins for the Marauders, their longest series win streak of the season. The team's record stood at 32-16 at the end of June.
A momentary stumble in a mid-to-late July road trip to Daytona Beach and Port St. Lucie saw the Marauders drop 10 of 13 games over a two-week stretch. But the team never fell below second place, as their early-summer surge had built a sizable cushion in the standings against main challengers Fort Myers, St. Lucie, and Jupiter. The Marauders finished the month with a 13-10 win over Dunedin on July 31 that included seven Marauders home runs, a new franchise record. Jase Bowen and Jack Herman launched two home runs each in the historic game, while Maikol Escotto, Dariel Lopez, and Endy Rodriguez each blasted one.
The month of August saw Bradenton go 17-7, winning four straight series and further solidifying its hold on the Low-A Southeast's second-best record behind Tampa.
August also brought two of the most remarkable offensive efforts of Bradenton's season. On August 29 in Fort Myers, the Marauders trounced the Mighty Mussels, 22-5, setting a new franchise record for runs scored in a game. Seven Marauders players recorded multiple hits, and the team went 14-for-30 with runners in scoring position. Just two days later, in a teaser to the eventual championship series, the Marauders and Tarpons combined for 12 home runs-six per team-in a 19-7 Bradenton win at LECOM Park. Hudson Head homered twice, while Bowen, Herman, Lopez, and Rodriguez contributed one each.
As the calendar turned to September, the Marauders swiftly closed in on a postseason berth. On Saturday, September 11, the Marauders overcame a 1-0 deficit in Clearwater with home runs by Rodriguez, Alexander Mojica, and Ernny Ordonez en route to an 8-1 victory, clinching the team's fifth trip to the postseason in club history and their first since 2016.
From the beginning of the league championship series on Tuesday, September 21, the Marauders came ready to play. Game 1 that night saw Adrian Florencio struck out seven batters across six innings in an eventual walkoff win for the Marauders, as Abrahan Gutierrez worked a bases-loaded walk to force home the tying run.
Game 2 brought a brilliant start from Luis Ortiz, who struck out nine batters in six dominant innings. Three straight run-scoring hits by Herman, Ordonez, and Escotto in the second inning and a third-inning home run by Gutierrez helped lift Bradenton to a 6-1 win over the Tarpons. The team stood on the brink of the title as they bid farewell to LECOM Park for the season that night.
In Game 3, the Marauders bounced back from a pair of early deficits, and Dariel Lopez's go-ahead two-run homer in the third inning proved to be the turning point. Jackson Glenn hit his first career home run in the seventh and Gutierrez launched two more homers, and a combined bullpen effort of Eddy Yean, Tyler Samaniego, Wandi Montout, and Oliver Mateo slammed the door for the title-clinching victory for the Marauders.
With two league titles now hanging in the proverbial rafters, the Marauders look forward to coming out swinging again in 2022.
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Low-A Southeast League Stories from September 28, 2021
- Worth the Wait: a Marauders Season to Remember - Bradenton Marauders
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