With Dukes of Hazzard star Catherine Bach present at Hammond Stadium Thursday night, the Fort Myers Miracle lost 8-7 in an 11-inning showdown with the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
The loss leaves the Miracle with a half-game lead on St. Lucie in the Florida State League's South Division standings. Their magic number to clinch the first-half title remains at three. The Miracle (38-28) do not play again until Monday with the Florida State League All-Star Game on Saturday in Bradenton. Fort Myers meets the Bradenton Marauders for three-game series beginning Monday.
Charlotte plated two in the second inning off Miracle starter Matt Tomshaw. Justin O'Conner tripled to center and scored on a Luke Bailey single. An error by shortstop Jorge Polanco moved Bailey to second base, then a double by Julian Ridings brought Bailey home and raised Charlotte to a 2-0 lead.
The Miracle snatched both runs back off starter Reinaldo Lopez in the bottom half of the second. Travis Harrison reached on a defensive miscue by shortstop Leonardo Reginatto and came home to score on a Tyler Grimes double. An RBI groundout by Polanco plated Grimes to tie the game 2-2.
The Crabs regained the lead in the fourth. Josh Sale slapped a two-on, two-out double to bring home Bailey from second and put Charlotte up 3-2.
Fort Myers capitalized on an error in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead. Harrison and Hicks hit back-to-back singles. An attempted sacrifice bunt by Stuart Turner turned into two runs as a throwing error by Lopez (4-2) allowed both runners to cross the plate. The Miracle then held a 4-3 advantage.
Lopez's night was finished after four innings and four runs, none earned.
Charlotte jumped back on top with a pair in the sixth. With Justin O'Conner aboard, Bailey smacked a two-run homer over the right field fence to give the Crabs a 5-4 advantage.
The Miracle fought through the deficit in the sixth to squeeze ahead. Grimes singled off Charlotte reliever Bruedlin Suero and was pushed to second on a sacrifice bunt by Polanco. Aderling Mejia singled to plate Grimes and raced to third on a throwing error by first baseman Patrick Leonard. Stephen Wickens knocked Mejia home with a base hit, placing the Miracle on top 6-5.
Tomshaw tossed six innings and allowed five runs, four earned, off 10 hits and not receive a decision.
Charlotte evened the game at 6-6 when Julian Ridings homered off reliever Mason Melotakis in the ninth.
The Miracle and Stone Crabs remained in a deadlock until the top of the 11th. Charlotte earned the game-winning run on Tommy Coyle's triple off reliever Brandon Peterson. The Stone Crabs added an insurance run off Brian Gilbert on a RBI single by Leonardo Reginatto, lifting Charlotte to an 8-6 advantage.
Fort Myers took one back in the bottom of the 11th with a RBI single by Adam Brett Walker, but could not muster more. The score remained at the final of 8-7.
Peterson (1-1) threw 1 1/3 innings and granted the winning run to take the loss for the Miracle.
Marcus Jensen was the winning pitcher for the Stone Crabs. Jensen (3-3) pitched two one-hit innings. Ryan Garton closed out the 11th and earned his third save.