Palm Beach Halts Manatees’ Late Rally

By  //  July 23, 2012

Tonight's Game In Daytona

BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Down 6-0 after seven innings, the Brevard County Manatees rallied in the ninth to make things interesting, but ultimately fell 6-4 to the Palm Beach Cardinals on Sunday night at Space Coast Stadium.

Shea Vucinich had two hits for Brevard County against Palm Beach on Sunday. (image courtesy Brevard County Manatees)

With the Cardinals up 6-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Mike Walker started the inning off with a single to center. Brock Kjeldgaard then doubled to put runners on second and third. Reggie Keen then hit a bloop single to left to score Walker and make it a 6-2 game.

Brent Dean stepped in with runners on the corners and poked a single the opposite way to right to cut Palm Beach’s lead to 6-3, with runners on first and second and still no outs.

John Dishon was next up and almost tied the game as he lifted a ball down the left field line, but it hooked foul and he would end up striking out. Franklin Romero Jr. would then strike out for the second out of the inning, but Nick Shaw stepped in and dropped a single into center to make it a 6-4 game and put the tying run on base.

Rally stopped

Palm Beach then lifted Dean Kiekhefer in favor of Aidan Lucas with Shea Vucinich representing the winning run for the ‘Tees (17-13 second half, 46-52 overall) stepping up to the plate. Vucinich took the first pitch he saw from Lucas and gave it for a ride to left center, but with the wind blowing left to right, it didn’t have enough to get out as Mike O’Neill stepped under it to make the catch and end the game.

The Cardinals (15-16, 46-52) jumped out to their 6-0 lead as they roughed up Manatees starting pitcher Drew Gagnon (0-1, 3.72). Gagnon allowed four straight one-out hits in the fourth as Palm Beach took a 2-0 lead.

Nicholas Longmire would then reach on a fielder’s choice but the Cardinals would score their third run of the game on the play, thanks to a throwing error from Shaw. Two batters later, the FSL’s leading hitter O’Neill singled to left to drive in another run to make it 4-0.

A lead-off walk to James Ramsey, came back to bite Gagnon in the fifth as he allowed a two-out, two-run homer to Geoffrey Klein as Palm Beach took a commanding 6-0 lead.

For Gagnon, the six runs and four earned runs were the most that he has allowed in five starts with the ‘Tees. He yielded eight hits, while walking three and striking out one in 5.1 innings of work.

Effective pitching

Offensively for the Manatees, both Vucinich and Dean had two hits each. Brevard County was held hitless by Palm Beach starter Ryan Sherriff until Vucinich broke up the no-hitter with a two-out double in the sixth.

After hitting just .229 in the first half of the season, Vucinich has turned it on in the second half as he is hitting .333 in his last 24 games.

With their series with the Cards ending in a split, the ‘Tees will open up a three-game series with their rivals, the Daytona Cubs (12-18, 42-56) on Monday at 7:05 p.m. Monday’s game, as well as Wednesday’s game will be played at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach. Brevard County will host the middle game of the series on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m.

Lefty Jed Bradley (5-7, 5.01) will get the ball for Brevard. The 2011 first round draft pick struggled on the road this season, as he is 1-4 with a 9.74 ERA in seven starts away from Space Coast Stadium. Bradley also has a 6.66 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break.

Daytona will send Matt Loosen (8-3, 2.79) to the mound. Loosen is currently leading the Florida State League in earned run average, but has a 6.00 ERA in two starts against the ‘Tees this season.