The Fort Myers Miracle advanced to the Florida State League Championship series Wednesday night completing a two-game sweep of the Bradenton Marauders 6-2 at JetBlue Park.
The Miracle now await the winner of the FSL North Divison playoff between the Dunedin Blue Jays and the Daytona Cubs. The Cubs lead the series 1-0. If the Cubs win Wednesday, the Miracle host the first two games of the best-of-five FSL Championship Series at JetBlue Park on Thursday and Friday at 7:05 p.m.
The newly crowned FSL South Division Champions erased an early 1-0 deficit with a six-run burst in the bottom of the third inning. Adam Brett Walker ignited the offense with a line drive single to left field off Bradenton starter Shane Carle. Tyler Grimes was struck by pitch to put runners at first and second. Jason Kanzler attempted a sacrifice bunt, but tapped the ball back to the pitcher. Carle threw wildly to first and Kanzler reached safely as Walker raced home to tie the game at 1-1.
With runners on the corners, Aderling Mejia gave the Miracle the lead with a base hit through the right side. Grimes trotted home and Kanzler sped to third base. Walker Gourley's throw from right field allowed Mejia to advance to second. After Niko Goodrum struck out, Travis Harrison knocked a 1-0 pitch high off the Fenway South version of the Green Monster to score two more runs to make it 4-1.
Dalton Hicks strolled to the plate and delivered the knockout blow. On an 0-2 pitch, Hicks sent a drive that carried over the right field fence for a two-run homer that pushed the Miracle lead to 6-1. The homer is Hicks' first in the postseason.
Miracle starter D.J. Baxendale was strong in seven innings allowing just one unearned run on six hits. Adam Frazier picked up a RBI single against Baxendale (1-0) in the third inning. Baxendale finished with five strikeouts and induced two double plays from the Bradenton lineup.
After one scoreless frame by Todd Van Steensel in the eighth out of the Miracle bullpen, Zack Jones entered in the ninth. Jones surrendered a hit, two walks and a sacrifice fly, but ended the Marauders season by striking out Justin Maffei to send the Miracle to the FSL Championship Series.
The Divisional Series win is the Miracle's first since the FSL adopted the North-South format in 2009. The Miracle previously won FSL an West Division Championship in 1995 and 2006. In each trip to the FSL Championship Series in those seasons, the Miracle lost to the Daytona Cubs.