The Fort Myers Miracle clinched the Florida State League first half championship with a 5-0 shutout of the Bradenton Marauders Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium.
Miracle starter D.J. Baxendale dealt six scoreless innings with only four hits allowed and five strikeouts. Making just his third start for the Miracle this season, Baxendale evened his record at 1-1.
In the fifth inning, Stuart Turner broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, solo home run to left field. It is Turner's fourth of the season.
The Miracle added three runs in the sixth inning. Jorge Polanco led off with an infield single to the right side. Stephen Wickens then hit a low line drive to center. Jeff Roy made a diving attempt, but the ball bounced a rolled past him. Polanco scored and Wickens stood at second with a RBI double. With a runner at second, Lance Ray served a slicing drive into the left field corner to plate Wickens. Ray advanced to third on a ground out by Dalton Hicks and scored on a Creasy wild pitch to make it 4-0.
Fort Myers got an extra insurance run in the seventh inning off Bradenton reliever Thomas Harlan. Turner doubled into right center field to begin the inning. Tyler Grimes laid down a sacrifice bunt and catcher Jin-De Jhang tried to get the lead runner at third base, but Turner beat the throw. With runners at the corners, Grimes got caught in a run down at first. Grimes was retired, but Turner broke for home and beat the tag with an athletic, head-first slide, 5-0.
After Baxendale, Miracle manager Doug Mientkiewicz turned to reliever-turned-starter Matt Tomshaw to come out of the bullpen. Having made eight starts and not appearing in a relief role since April 14, Tomshaw completed the shutout with three scoreless frames to earn his second save of the season.
The Miracle pitching staff recorded its ninth shutout of the season.
Fort Myers finishes the first half with a record of 41-28 and a second consecutive trip to the FSL playoffs in September. Doug Mientkiewicz has guided the Miracle to first-half championships in each of his first two seasons with the club.
The Miracle begin the second half on the road with the first of a three-game series at Tradition Field to take on the St. Lucie Mets.