Miracle starter Jason Wheeler fanned a season-high 10 batters to help the Fort Myers Miracle post a critical 6-2 win over the Bradenton Marauders Monday night at Hammond Stadium.
The Marauders jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. With one out, D.J. Crumlich earned a walk off Wheeler (6-5). Josh Bell then roped a single into center and a wild pitch from Wheeler put runners at second and third. Eric Wood then hit a ground ball to short that Jorge Polanco stopped with a dive, but could not field cleanly allowing Crumlich to score, 1-0. Jose Osuna singled into right to bring in Bell and give Bradenton a two-run lead.
Wheeler would not allow another Marauder to cross home plate in six innings. Issuing just a pair of walks, Wheeler allowed two runs on five hits. With St. Lucie winning over Charlotte, the Miracle maintain a 0.5 game lead on the Mets for the Florida State League South Division first-half championship with two games left to play. The magic number for Fort Myers is two.
The Miracle answered with a run in the bottom of the first. Polanco led off with a triple into center off Bradenton starter Chad Kuhl. Stephen Wickens then laid down a bunt hugging the third base line. Polanco raced home and Wickens beat out the throw for a RBI safety squeeze base hit 2-1.
Fort Myers took over the lead with a three-run bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Niko Goodrum hit a ground ball that took a wicked bounce over second baseman D.J. Crumlich for a single. Stuart Turner dropped a base hit into center field and Goodrum raced to third. Then, Tyler Grimes flared a liner into right off Kuhl (7-5) to bring in Goodrum and tie the game, 2-2.
Polanco put the Miracle on top with a ripped line drive into right field to bring Turner in. Stephen Wickens followed with a sacrifice fly into center field to plate Grimes and push the Miracle advantage to 4-2.
Dalton Hicks added some insurance with a two-run homer to right off Marauder reliever Jeff Inman in the eighth inning. For Hicks, the long ball was his first since May 17.
Brandon Peterson struck out two in the seventh for the Miracle. Tim Shibuya allowed just one hit and struck out three in a two-inning save, his second of the season.
Kuhl went six innings and allowed four runs on six hits with a walk and six punch outs in a losing effort.
The Miracle (39-28) host the Marauders (35-32) for the second of a three-game series at Hammond Stadium Tuesday night.