Herald staff report
BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Marauders capitalized on late mistakes by the Brevard County Manatees Wednesday night to secure a 5-2 win the first game of a four game series at McKechnie Field.
Jason Townsend earned the win for the Marauders with two scoreless innings of relief.
Bradenton (12-8) opened the scoring in the first inning on a two-out double by Alex Dickerson. Gift Ngoepe, who reached on a single, stole his 16th base of the season immediately preceding the double by Dickerson.
The lead did not last long for Bradenton. Parker Berberet connected on his first home run of the season with two outs in the second. The solo shot off Colton Cain tied the game at 1-1. Cain pitched six innings and did not factor in the decision. He struck out the side in the first, but did not have another strikeout on the night.
In the sixth, Brock Kjeldgaard led off with a double for Brevard County. After moving to third on a groundout, Kjeldgaard scored on a sacrifice fly from Hector Gomez to put the Manatees in front.
This time it was the Manatees (10-9) with a short-lived advantage. With two down in the home half of the seventh consecutive singles by Carlos Paulino and Justin Howard put runners at the corners against Drew Gagnon. The Brevard County starter threw a low pitch to Carlos Mesa. When the pitch skipped into the glove of Berberet, Howard bolted for second. On the throw to second Paulino rushed home, narrowly beating the relay back from second to tie the score 2-2. Eric Marzec entered to strike out Andy Vasquez and end the inning after a walk to Mesa chased Gagnon.
The Marauder put a runner at third with one out in the eighth on a triple by Dan Grovatt. Grovatt extended his hitting streak to 14 straight games. It is the longest streak active in the Florida State League. Marzec struck out Ngoepe on three pitches for the second out. Mel Rojas Jr. worked the count full and then hit a grounder that was mishandled by Cody Hawn at first, giving Bradenton the lead 3-2. Three straight hits by Dickerson, Paulino and Howard led to two more runs to close the scoring. Dickerson and Howard were each 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Paulino went 2-for-3 and plated a run as well.
Doug Salinas pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save in as many tries. All of Salinas' saves have come in the second half of the season.
The Marauders and Manatees play game two of their series on Thursday night at McKechnie Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.