ST. LUCIE - The Fort Myers Miracle used five first inning runs to set the tone in a 9-5 win in the second half opener over the first-half champion St. Lucie Mets Thursday night.
Fort Myers sent 10 hitters to the plate against Mets starter Yohan Almonte with the first seven reaching base. Daniel Santana led of the inning with a walk then Levi Michael reached on a bunt single. On a 1-1 pitch, Danny Ortiz laced a fastball down the right field line for a two-run triple. Ortiz came home on a wild pitch to give the Miracle a 3-0 advantage.
After Josmil Pinto walked, Kyle Knudson delivered an RBI double into left-center to score Pinto from first. Lance Ray then singled to put runners on the corners and Danny Rams reached on a fielding error by St. Lucie third baseman Robbie Shields allowing Knudson to score. The Miracle plated five runs on four hits before starter Pat Dean took the hill.
The Mets answered in the bottom of the second inning with three runs on four hits, including two doubles. Dean (5-4) gave up a two-run double to Shields and then a two-out RBI double to Alonzo Harris.
Leading 5-3, the Miracle bats added some insurance in the top of the third. Knudson led off with a base hit and one batter later Rams doubled. With one out and runners at second and third, St. Lucie manager Ryan Ellis went to the bullpen for reliever Kyle Allen to face Andy Leer.
Leer ripped a single into left plating two runs. After Angel Morales walked, Santana had a base hit up the middle to score another run and push the Miracle lead to 8-3.
Levi Michael extended the lead to 9-3 in the fifth inning with a two-out RBI base hit.
The Mets rallied for a pair in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out, two-run homer by Cory Vaughn off of Dean.
Picking up his first win since May 27, Dean lasted 5 2/3 innings giving up five runs on nine hits with five strikeouts. Michael Tonkin came on in relief in the sixth. In his Miracle debut, Tonkin went 2 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out the side in the eighth. Tonkin's fastball registered at 95 miles per hour on the radar gun.
Dakota Watts pitched a scoreless ninth, but hit a batter and allowed a single before striking out Alan Dykstra and inducing a 4-6-3 double play to close out the game. Five Miracle hitters had multihit nights including back-to-backs for Leer, Rams, and Ortiz. Leer had multiple runs batted in for the second night in a row.
Knudson racked up his third consecutive three-hit game and is now 9-for-14 during that stretch with two doubles and two RBI
The Miracle (29-39, 1-0) face the Mets Friday night for game two of the series wotj Marty Popham slated to start against the Mets' Chase Huchingson at 6:30 p.m.