The Fort Myers Miracle pounded out 10 runs on 14 hits to take the rubber match of the series 10-6 over the Palm Beach Cardinals Monday night at Hammond Stadium.
Through the first four innings, Miracle starter D.J. Baxendale was tagged for six runs on eight hits, including two home runs by the Cardinals offense. Each time the Cardinals scored in the top half an inning, the Miracle answered in the bottom half and eventually took the lead in the fifth inning.
In the first, Baxendale surrendered a pair of RBI singles to Luke Voit and Nick Martinit, the Miracle got a run back with a run-scoring double from Nate Roberts off Cardinals starter Joe Cuda, 2-1.
Palm Beach plated three runs in the third with a run-scoring single from Ildemaro Vargas and a two-run homer by Bruce Caldwell. Fort Myers matched the Cardinals with a three-run frame.
Jorge Polanco led off with a single into left center and scored on a one-out double by Mike Gonzales. Adam Brett Walker earned a base on balls. Dalton Hicks then poked a two-run double down the left field line and into the corner to bring the Miracle deficit back to one, 5-4.
In the fourth, Anthony Garcia led off with a long home run to left off the first pitch from Baxendale. Again, the Miracle returned fire with a RBI ground out by Niko Goodrum, 6-5.
Finally, the Miracle offense burst through to take the lead in the fifth. With one out, Walker ripped a base hit into right field off Cuda (5-6). Hicks worked a walk to put runners at first and second. Travis Harrison then smacked a 2-2 pitch into center field to bring in Walker and tie the game. Stuart Turner stepped up and dropped a single into right field on the first pitch to score Hicks and give the Miracle a 7-6 lead.
Entering for Baxendale in the fifth, Brett Lee continued his 1-2-3 inning in the fifth with a perfect sixth and a scoreless seventh in relief. Lee (6-1) came off the disabled list and picked up the win in his first appearance since May 30.
Fort Myers added three insurance runs int he bottom of the seventh off Cardinals reliever Sam Tuivailala. With one out, Harrison ripped a base hit up the middle and then stole second base. Turner hit a line drive that skipped off the mound into center field to plate Harrison. Max Kepler followed with a broken bat single to center for a RBI and later scored on a wild pitch by Cardinals reliever Kyle Barraclough, 10-6.
Steven Gruver pitched a scoreless eighth on his 25th birthday and Brandon Peterson fanned two in the ninth to close out the win.
The Miracle (48-31, 7-3) head to McKechnie Field to take on the Bradenton Marauders (41-39, 6-5) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. F