Adam Brett Walker homered and drove in two runs to power the Fort Myers Miracle to a 5-1 win over the Daytona Cubs in the first game of the Florida State League Championship Series Thursday night at JetBlue Park.
Walker's tape measure solo homer in the sixth restored a multi-run lead for the Miracle after the Cubs plated in a run in the top of the sixth.
Miracle starter Matt Tomshaw upheld a 2-0 lead for five shutout frames, but Daytona pounced on a scoring opportunity in the sixth. Bijan Rademacher singled off Tomshaw's glove to start the inning, then moved to second on a throwing error by Tyler Grimes. Marco Hernandez beat out a bunt to put runners at the corners with no outs. After Tomshaw struck out Hanneman, Gioskar Amaya hit a ground rule double that bounced into the stands down the right field line. Rademacher scored to cut the Miracle lead to 2-1, but Gonzalez was ordered to stop at third. Tomshaw then walked Kyle Schwarber. With the bases loaded, Dan Vogelbach rolled into a 4-6-3 double play to end the Cubs' threat in the sixth.
Walker regained the Miracle two-run advantage three pitches into the bottom of the sixth. On a 1-1 pitch from Cubs reliever Michael Jensen, Walker sent a rocket over the Green Monster in left center field for his first home run of the postseason. Walker led the FSL in homers during the regular season with 25.
Fort Myers added a second run with two out in the sixth. After Grimes flew out to right, Jason Kanzler coaxed a walk and then advanced to second on a single by Aderling Mejia. Niko Goodrum hit into a force play that retired Mejia at second, but landed runners on the corners. Travis Harrison then smacked a 1-0 pitch into center field for a RBI double and extended the Miracle lead to 4-1.
In the seventh, the Miracle pushed the lead to four runs more help from Walker. Stuart Turner led off the frame with a base hit through the left side of Cubs reliever Steven Perakslis. Max Kepler then hit a grounder that bounced off the glove of Vogelbach at first and put runners at the corners. Then, on a 1-2 pitch, Walker chopped a high-hopper that remained fair down the third base line and scored Turner from third, 5-1.
Walker finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBI.
The Miracle opened the scoring in the second inning with a pair of runs off Daytona starter Juan Paniagua. Dalton Hicks laced a base hit into center to start the inning and Turner walked to put the first two hitters on base. Paniagua (0-1) then got Kepler on a fly out to center and struck out Walker. Grimes stepped up and lined a single into center. Hicks scored easily, but Turner also crossed home after Jacob Hanneman failed to come up with the ball cleanly in center field.
Paniagua lasted just three innings and gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Tomshaw (1-0) earned the win with six strong frames. Allowing just one run on six hits, Tomshaw struck out four with two walks.
D.J. Johnson pitched two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth. Brandon Peterson recorded the last three outs, only surrendering one hit.
The Miracle lead the best-of-five series 1-0 and return to JetBlue Park for game two with the Cubs on Friday.