DAYTONA - The Fort Myers Miracle outlasted the Daytona Cubs 7-5 Thursday night, the seventh straight win for the Miracle (17-8, 58-36 overall).
The Cubs got the first run of the game in the first inning off Miracle starter Ethan Mildren. Marco Hernandez led off with a single through the right side. Albert Almora hit into a force play that retired Hernandez at second base. Then, Kyle Schwarber picked up a base hit to put runners on the corners for the Cubs. Dan Vogelbach then hit a fly ball to center field that was caught by Danny Santana, but was deep enough to bring in Almora from third, 1-0.
In the top of the second, the Miracle answered with a pair off runs off Cubs starter Nathan Dorris. Adam Brett Walker started the frame with a liner into left field, but was erased on a force play hit into by Travis Harrison. With Harrison at first, Niko Goodrum ripped a double into the gap in left center to tie the game. Stuart Turner's ground out to second moved Goodrum to third base. Then, Aderling Mejia hit a one-hop rocket to third that glanced off the shoulder off Jordan Hankins for a RBI single, 2-1.
Daytona answered with a run in the second to tie the game and took the lead in the third. In the second, Jordan Hankins drove in Wes Darvill with a RBI ground out. In the third, Fort Myers native Dan Vogelbach hit a two-run homer to right to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead.
The Miracle returned fire to tie the game with two runs in the top of the fourth. Harrison started the rally with a walk. Goodrum picked up his second double of the night to put runners on second and third. Turner drove in Harrison with a sacrifice fly to center and Mejia knocked in his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly to right, 4-4.
Again, the Cubs regained the advantage with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Wilson Contreras reached third on a one-out triple and scored on a sac fly from Hernandez, 5-4.
In the fifth, the Miracle drew even with some two out pressure. Dalton Hicks doubled into left center. Dorris then left the game in favor of Cubs reliever Michael Jensen. With Walker at the plate, Jensen (4-4) threw a wild pitch that pushed Hicks to third. After issuing a base on balls to Walker, Jensen tossed another pitch in the dirt that bounced away from Contreras and allowed Hicks to race home and tie the game, 5-5.
Fort Myers finally took the lead for good in the top of the seventh. Jorge Polanco smoked a triple into the right center field gap to begin the inning. Santana earned a walk off Jensen to put runners at the corners. After Jensen struck out Hicks, Walker hit a grounder to third scored Polanco and put the Miracle up 6-5.
Byron Buxton added an insurance run in the ninth with a solo home run. His second of the season, Buxton hit a towering shot to deep left field on a 1-1 pitch off Cubs reliever Austin Kirk.
Mildren received a no decision after allowing five runs on six hits over four innings with two walks and two strikeouts. Brian Gilbert picked up the win and impvoved to 1-2 with two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth. Steven Gruver held the Miracle lead over two shutout frames and Tyler Jones recorded his 13th save of the season by retiring the side in the ninth.
Dorris also had a no decision for Daytona in 4.2 innings. Dorris gave up five runs on six hits. Jensen was the losing pitcher after yielding a run on two hits over 2.1 innings.
The Miracle (58-36, 17-8) and Cubs (41-52, 15-10) meet again on Friday.