Manatees Rally In Ninth To Beat Clearwater, 5-4
By Space Coast Daily // August 25, 2014
Manatees Score Four Runs In Final Inning To Take Three Out of Four In the Series
CLEARWATER, FORIDA – The Brevard County Manatees scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning, as they defeated the Clearwater Threshers, 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Brighthouse Field.
Trailing 2-1 going into the last inning, Clearwater (28-36 second half, 45-87 overall) brought on one of their closers in Lee Ridenhour. Orlando Arcia led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyrone Taylor.
Brevard County (32-30, 68-60) then made the Threshers pay with the heart of its lineup. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Michael Reed roped a ball down the right field line for a game-tying RBI double to knot the game at two.
Victor Roache would put the ‘Tees in front a few pitches later. On a 2-2 count, the former first-round pick ripped one past the third baseman Harold Martinez and into left field for a single. Reed scored from second to give Brevard County its first lead of the game, 3-2.
After Roache swiped second base, Mike Garza walked to continue the rally. Cameron Garfield then took a hack at the first pitch he saw and lined it into right-center field. Roache came home to score from second and Garza moved to third on the RBI single to push the advantage to 4-2.
That was all for Ridenhour. The right-hander took his eighth loss of the season, as he allowed four runs on three hits. He walked two and recorded just one out.
Ethan Stewart came out of the bullpen for the Threshers to get the final two outs of the inning. In the process, he allowed one of Ridenhour’s inherited runners to score on an RBI fielder’s choice by Garrett Cooper, which made it 5-2.
However, the Threshers would not go down quietly in the bottom of the frame. Right-handed reliever Tyler Spurlin, who recorded the final out in the eighth, stayed on to face the middle of the Clearwater lineup.
Jesmuel Valentin walked on five pitches to bring J.P. Crawford to the dish. The Phillies first-round pick from 2013 turned on a 2-1 pitch and drove it over the right-center field wall for a two-run home run to cut the lead to 5-4.
The blast, which landed on the berm, was Crawford’s second long ball of the game and his eighth with Clearwater. Five of those eight home runs with the Threshers have come against Brevard County.
Brandon Short would then ground out to short for the first out, but Clearwater kept the pressure on the ‘Tees. Brian Pointer followed with a five-pitch walk to put the tying run on base.
That was it for Spurlin, as 34-year-old Jon Huizinga came on to try and pick up his first save in affiliated baseball since 2003. The side-armer struck out Martinez to tally the second out of the inning, but then gave up a single to Art Charles.
With the tying run at third and the winning run at first, Huizinga hunkered down. Arcia fielded a high chopper off the bat of Corey Bass and threw on to first base to record the final out of the game.
By recording the final two outs, Huizinga picked up his first save with the Manatees. Spurlin recorded his first career Florida State League win and his first since July 4 when he was pitching for the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
There wasn’t much offense throughout the first eight innings of the ballgame. Clearwater took the initial lead in the first on Crawford’s first home run of the game. Brevard County rallied it to tie it in the seventh on an RBI ground out by Garza after a triple to right-center by Reed. Charles then gave the Threshers a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth with his team-leading 19th home run of the season.
Both starters were phenomenal, but neither factored into the decision after a wild ninth inning. Manatees starter Hobbs Johnson (11-8, 3.05 ERA), who had a 9.42 ERA in three daytime starts entering the game, was stellar over 7.2 innings. He yielded just two runs on four hits, walked two and struck out two.
Clearwater’s starter Miguel Nunez (5-7, 4.82) was equally great in his longest start of the season. The right-hander went eight innings and allowed one run on four hits. He punched out five and walked one.
Nunez’s impressive outing comes after yielding 12 runs on 18 hits over 9.1 innings in his first two starts against the Manatees.
SEVEN GAME HOME STAND STARTS TUESDAY
Brevard County will have an off day Monday before a doubleheader on Tuesday against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (19-44, 61-69) to start a six-day, seven-game homestand at Space Coast Stadium to wrap up the 2014 regular season.
Game one will begin at 5:05 p.m. and is a resumption of a nine-inning contest that began at Joker Marchant Stadium on July 10. The game will pick up with Orf at first and a 3-2 count on Arcia with no one out in the top of the first inning.
Right-hander Jorge Lopez (9-9, 4.30) will get the ball for the ‘Tees when Lakeland comes to bat in the bottom of the frame.
Left-hander Mike Strong (2-2, 2.67) will get the start in the seven-inning nightcap. That contest will begin a half-hour after the first game’s completion.