JUPITER - The Fort Myers Miracle coughed up a two-run lead in the eighth inning and a furious rally in the ninth came up short in an 8-7 loss to the Jupiter Hammerheads Monday night.
Tied 1-1 after seven innings, the Miracle broke the stalemate in the eighth. With one out, Tyler Grimes tripled into deep center field. After Jupiter reliever Casey McCarthy struck out Jorge Polanco, Aderling Mejia poked a double down the left field line to score Grimes. Stephen Wickens then doubled past third base to bring home Mejia.
Miracle reliever Brian Gilbert entered for the bottom half of the eighth inning and gave up four consecutive base hits and a wild pitch to allow a pair of runs to score. Anthony Gomez's singled through the right side with runners on the corners to tie the game 3-3.
Manager Doug Mientkiewicz called on Madison Boer in the bullpen. Terrence Dayleg sent a 1-1 pitch from Boer up the middle to put the Hammerheads up 4-3. Noah Perio and Colin Moran each added two-run doubles that pushed the Jupiter advantage to 8-3. The Hammerheads scored seven runs on seven hits in the eighth and sent 13 hitters to the plate.
In the ninth, the Miracle nearly mounted a comeback against Jupiter reliever Colby Suggs. Travis Harrison led off with a single and moved to second on a stolen base. After Niko Goodrum struck out, Mike Gonzales slaapped a base hit to put runners to the corners. A walk to pinch-hitter Lance Ray loaded the bases. Grimes then lined a single to center to score a run and cut Jupiter's lead to 8-4.
Grimes finished the evening 4-for-4 with two RBI and one run scored.
Hammerhead manager Brian Schneider brought in Blake Logan. Polanco greeted the new reliever with a RBI single to right. Mejia followed with a bloop single to left and Wickens earned an RBI sacrifice fly to cut the Jupiter lead to 8-7.
With two outs, Logan got Adam Brett Walker to fly out to deep right to end the game and earn his first save of the season.
McCarthy (2-2) earned the win despite giving up a pair of runs on three hits. Gilbert (0-2) did not record an out in the eighth and was the losing pitcher for the Miracle.
The Miracle (36-27) return to Hammond Stadium for a three-game series against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Tuesday.