FORT MYERS - Jason Wheeler tossed seven scoreless innings and the Fort Myers Miracle burst out to an early lead to cruise to an 8-0 win over the Tampa Yankees in the series finale at Hammond Stadium on Tuesday night.
Wheeler (5-4) earned his third consecutive victory and while allowing just two hits. Striking out five with only a pair of walks, Wheeler has not allowed a run in his last 16.2 innings of work.
The Miracle offense gave Wheeler all the offense he would need in the first inning. Jorge Polanco opened up the inning with a double down the third base line against Yankees starter Chaz Hebert. Stephen Wickens then followed with grounder through the left side to bring in Polanco. After an Eddie Rosario base hit to center, Adam Brett Walker hit a bouncing ball that was gloved by Jose Toussen on the right side. Wickens scored on the infield hit, but then an errant throw by Toussen allowed Rosario to move up to third and Walker to second.
After Hebert (11-3) struck out Travis Harrison, Dalton Hicks hit a fly ball to center field that scored Rosario from third. Stuart Turner followed Hicks' sacrifice fly with a line drive single to right to bring in Walker and cap a four-run first inning, 4-0.
Fort Myers added to the lead in the fourth against Tampa reliever Stefan Lopez. Issuing lead off walks to Aderling Mejia and Polanco, Lopez struck out Wickens for the first out of the inning. Then, Rosario laced a single through the right side to plate Mejia. Walker followed with another RBI hit and Harrison knocked in a third run on a sacrifice fly, 7-0.
Walker added a third RBI on the evening in the sixth with a bases loaded infield hit off Yankee reliever Evan Rutckyj. After walking three in a row to start the inning, Walker hit a weak tapper to the left side, but beat out the throw from Rutckyj, 8-0. Walker finished 3-for-5.
Mason Melotakis entered for Jason Wheeler in the eighth inning and completed the shutout by facing the minimum in the final two frames. The shutout was the Fort Myers pitching staff's sixth of the season.
The top four hitters in the Miracle lineup combined to go 10-for-15 and scored seven of the eight runs. Wickens finished the evening 3-for-4 with a walk, run and RBI. Polanco reached base five times, going 2-for-2 with a double, three walks and three runs scored.
Rosario was 2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs.
With a St. Lucie loss to Daytona, the Miracle now have a 1.5 game lead in the Florida State League South Division with 12 games remaining in the first half.
The Miracle (34-23) host the Lakeland Flying Tigers (37-21) for a four-game series beginning on Wednesday evening at 7:05 p.m. The Miracle are celebrating the heritage and businesses of Sanibel and Captiva with Islands Night presented by Bailey's General Store. For tickets, call (239) 768-4210 or order online at www.miraclebaseball.com.