CLEARWATER - Down to a final strike, the Clearwater Threshers erased a 4-1 deficit in the ninth inning to force extra innings in a 5-4 win over the Fort Myers Miracle Wednesday afternoon.
With two outs and nobody on base, Pete Levin began a rally against Miracle reliever Brian Gilbert by reaching on a catcher's interference with Jairo Rodriguez's glove interfered with a swing. Chris Swauger then singled into left field to bring the tying run to the plate in a 4-1 game.
After fouling off four consecutive 2-2 pitches, Art Charles deposited a line drive into the grass berm beyond the right field wall for a game-tying three-run homer.
In extra innings, the Threshers earned a walk-off win in the 11th. With one out, Miracle reliever Steven Gruver issued a pair of walks to Swauger and Charles. Logan Moore, a late inning defensive replacement, then hit a ground ball to short that was mishandled by Jorge Polanco allowing Swauger to score from second and end the game, 5-4.
The Miracle wasted a fantastic start from David Hurlbut. In eight innings, Hurlbut allowed just four hits and one unearned run while striking out a season-high 10. Hurlbut did not issue a walk and had a string of 14 consecutive outs recorded from the first through the fifth innings.
Clearwater's comeback began after the Miracle had built a 4-0 lead at the seventh inning stretch.
Polanco led off the first inning with a triple into the gap in left center off Clearwater starter Colin Kleven. Aderling Mejia followed with a liner to right on an 0-2 pitch to spot the Miracle a 1-0 lead.
Fort Myers added a pair in the fifth inning. With one out, Kleven struck Tyler Grimes with a pitch. Jairo Rodriguez then pulled a 1-0 pitch down the third base line to Grimes from first. Kleven walked Jonathan Murphy and a wild pitch moved Rodriguez to third. Polanco then lifted a fly ball to center for a sacrifice fly, 3-0.
In the top of the seventh, Adam Brett Walker hit a solo bomb to left center field off of MLB rehabilitation reliever Shawn Camp. The homer was Walker's tenth of the season and ties him for the league lead in the FSL.
Clearwater got a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Swauger off Hurlbut. Before Charles hit his ninth inning shot, the Threshers were twice down to their final strike.
Gruver (1-4) took the loss for the Miracle.
The Miracle (29-22) face the Threshers (11-40) again Thursday night.