BRADENTON - The Fort Myers Miracle fell, 5-4, to the Bradenton Marauders despite a ninth inning rally attempt at McKechnie Field on Tuesday evening.
The Miracle registered the first run of the game in the top of the first. After Marauders starter Orlando Castro retired the first two hitters, Lance Ray hit a rocket into the Bradenton bullpen beyond the fence in right field on a 3-2 pitch, 1-0. The home run for Ray was his second of the season.
Bradenton answered in the bottom of the first with a home run of their own. Miracle starter B.J. Hermsen struggled in the inning, facing nine Marauder hitters. Adam Frazier led off with a walk and moved to second on a single by Max Moroff. With Jose Osuna at the plate, Frazier tried to advance to third on a pitch in the dirt, but was thrown out by Tyler Grimes. Osuna was then issued a base on balls. Then, Jordan Steranka worked a 202 count before launching a three-run homer to deep right center field, 3-1.
After the homer, the Marauders loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, but Hermsen (0-2) got an infield pop up from Taylor Lewis and a strikeout of Raul Fortunato to end the threat.
After the final out of a scoreless second inning, a large storm with heavy rain halted play.
When play resumed, Castro (6-4) retired 16 Miracle hitters in a row to preserve a two-run lead. Castro struck out five with only one hit allowed.
In the seventh, the Miracle cut the Bradenton lead in half with a RBI double by Travis Harrison. With two outs, Adam Brett Walker earned a base on balls. Then, Harrison smoked the first pitch from Marauders reliever Josh Smith into left field. Fortunato made a leaping attempt, but the ball deflected off his glove and Walker raced in to score, 3-2.
After five scoreless innings of relief, Alex Wimmers surrendered a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on RBI hits from Jin-De Jhang and Taylor Lewis, 5-2.
In the ninth, the Miracle nearly tied the game as Bradenton reliever Bryton Trepagnier struggled on the hill. Trepagnier gave up a hit and two walks to load the bases with no outs. Then, Harrison coaxed a walk to drive in a run and Turner was struck by a pitch to plate another and cut the Bradenton lead to 5-4.
Trepagnier rallied to get Dalton Hicks to hit into a force out at home and Tyler Grimes to hit into a game ending double play for his eighth save.
The Miracle (48-32, 7-4) return to McKechnie Field on Wednesday for a 6:30 p.m. match-up with the Marauders (42-39, 7-5). Fans can listen to the action on www.miraclebaseball.com with the 'Voice of the Miracle' Brice Zimmerman. The Head Quarters pregame show begins at 6:05 p.m.