The Fort Myers Miracle took both games of a doubleheader with the Dunedin Blue Jays Sunday afternoon at Hammond Stadium. The Miracle won game one 3-1 and game two 8-4.
In game one, D.J. Baxendale limited the Blue Jays to just one run on five hits and went the distance for the seven inning complete game. Baxendale (3-1) induced three double plays and recorded 12 outs on ground balls.
The Miracle scored in the first inning off Dunedin starter Jesse Hernandez. With one out, Nate Roberts singled up the middle. Roberts advanced to third on a base hit through the right side by Jorge Polanco. With runners on the corners, Dalton Hicks hit a fly ball into left field that was deep enough to plate Roberts on a sacrifice fly, 1-0.
Dunedin tied the game in the top of the second. Marcus Knecht led off with a triple into center field on a 3-2 pitch then trotted home on a RBI ground out by L.B. Dantzler, 1-1.
In the third, Fort Myers regained the lead. Byron Buxton began the inning by beating out a grounder to short for an infield hit, his first since returning from the disabled list. Buxton then swiped second base. Working a full count, Robert lifted a drive that split the gap in left center and Buxton scored easily to give the Miracle a 2-1 advantage. Roberts stood at third with a RBI triple.
Hernandez (4-8) then walked Polanco. On a 2-2 pitch, Hicks hit a one hopper back to Hernandez to start a 1-6-3 double play while Roberts scored to push the Miracle lead to 3-1.
In the last three innings, Baxendale faced just nine hitters to secure the win for the Miracle in game one. Hernandez went five innings and allowed three runs on six hits in a losing effort.
In game two, the Miracle blitzed Dunedin starter Frank Viola for seven runs in the first 2.1 innings of the game. In a designated bullpen day for the Miracle, Steven Gruver started and gave up a pair of runs in the first inning on back-to-back RBI hits to Kevin Patterson and L.B. Dantzler to put the Blue Jays up 2-0.
Fort Myers cut the Dunedin lead in half in the bottom of the first. With two out, Travis Harrison lined a single up the middle. Mike Gonzales then ripped a knuckleball from Viola (1-1) into the right field corner to score Harrison.
In the second inning, the Miracle plated three runs off Viola. Max Kepler led off with a base hit through the middle and Aderling Mejia bunted his way aboard. Niko Goodrum then ripped a double down the first base line to score Kepler. Nick Baligod fumbled the ball in right field allowing Mejia to score on the play and Goodrum to move to third, 3-2. After Tyler Grimes struck out, Polanco lifted a fly ball to center for a sacrifice and plate Goodrum.
Three more runs crossed the plate in the third inning. Viola walked Harrison and Gonzales to start the inning. Adam Brett Walker sent a 2-2 missile into the right center field gap to score two runs and push the Miracle lead to 6-3. After a line out by Kepler, Mejia lashed a single up the middle to score Walker.
Viola exited after 2.1 innings and gave up seven runs, six earned, on seven hits with three walks and a strikeout.
Mejia finished the game 3-for-3 with a run and RBI. Walker was 2-for-3 two runs and two knocked in.
Dunedin and Fort Myers traded a run in the fourth and fifth innings. The Blue Jays got a RBI single from Peter Mooney in the fourth and the Miracle countered with a Goodrum sacrifice fly in the 5th.
B.J. Hermsen picked up with win for the Miracle. Hermsen (1-2) tossed a scoreless second inning. Brian Gilbert worked a pair of innings and gave up two runs. Todd Van Steensel made his Miracle debut at Hammond Stadium and went 1.1 innings scoreless. Madison Boer recorded the final five outs without giving up a hit.
The Miracle (55-36, 14-8) go for a sweep of the Jays (57-36, 11-13) Monday at Hammond Stadium.