BRADENTON - Dalton Hicks picked up a game-winning RBI single in the top of the sixth inning after a 58-minute rain delay to send the Fort Myers Miracle to an 8-7 victory over the Bradenton Marauders in game one of the Florida State League South Divsional Playoffs.
After rain halted play moving to the top of the sixth with the game tied 7-7, the Marauders brought in Joan Montero out of the bullpen. Travis Harrison doubled with one out to put himself into scoring position. Hicks then ripped a 1-1 pitch into right center field and Harrison raced around third to score and put the Miracle up 8-7.
D.J. Johnson entered the game for the Miracle in the bottom of the sixth and tossed a pair of scoreless frames. Nick Burdi worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth. After a hit and a walk allowed, Burdi induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Zack Jones then cruised to a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the game. Jones struck out a pair to earn his first save in the FSL Playoffs.
The Miracle jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Bradenton starter and FSL Pitcher of the Year Tyler Glasnow in the second inning. Dalton Hicks led off by coaxing a walk out of Glasnow. After Stuart Turner struck out, Max Kepler doubled down the right field line to bring in Hicks. Kepler moved to third on an error by Jose Osuna. Adam Brett Walker then earned a walk to put runners on the corners. Glasnow rallied to strikeout Tyler Grimes, but Jason Kanzler ripped a first pitch into the gap in right center to score two runs.
Poor defense in the bottom of the second inning by the Miracle allowed seven unearned runs to score against Miracle starter Brett Lee. A one-out single by Eric Wood got the Marauders started. Wood then moved to second on a ground out to third by Max Moroff. Justin Maffei then reached on an error by shortstop Aderling Mejia. Jacob Stallings made the Miracle pay with a two-run double on the very next pitch. Stallings hit a line drive that split the gap in right center and scored Wood and Maffei, 3-2.
Raul Fortunato then hit a bouncing ball that eluded Niko Goodrum at third for a base hit. With runners on the corners, Adam Frazier hit a chopper to the left side that Goodrum whiffed on and a run scored to tie the game, 3-3. Walker Gourley then hit another grounder to third that bounced off Goodrum's chest and down the third base line. Fortunato scored to put the Marauders up 4-3.
Lee then walked Osuna to load the bases. Sterenka stepped up, in his second at-bat of the inning, and pulled a bases clearing double down the first base line to push the Bradenton lead out to 7-3.
In the fourth, the Miracle drew even with one flick of the bat by Kanzler. Glasnow exited the game after issuing three consecutive walks to Kepler, Walker and Grimes. Bradenton manager Tom Prince went to the bullpen and called on reliever Jhondaniel Medina. Kanzler then blasted Medina's first pitch with a line drive that cleared the wall in right field for a grand slam. Kanzler's first home run of the postseason tied the game 7-7.
With the game one win, the Miracle can advance to the FSL Championship with just one more victory.
The Miracle head home for game two against the Marauders at JetBlue Park on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. and gates will open at 6 p.m. Fans can pick up free tickets for upper bowl seating at local SUBWAY restaurants in Lee and Collier Counties. Upgrades to the lower bowl for $2 are available at the Miracle offices at the Twins Academy at the Lee County Sports Complex and at the team store at JetBlue Park.