BRADENTON --The Bradenton Marauders (18-15) rallied repeatedly, but never totally closed an early 3-0 deficit in a 9-7 loss to the Daytona Cubs (14-20) at McKechnie Field on Thursday night. Alex Dickerson powered the Bradenton offense, going 4-for-5 with two home runs and four runs driven in.
A game that had early promise as a pitchers' duel proved to be anything but. Casey Sadler (L, 2-5) and Austin Kirk (W, 5-3) each entered among the league leaders in ERA. Sadler allowed seven runs, six earned, over six innings while Kirk struggled with his control, walking five and allowing four runs through six in his second win against Bradenton this season.
The Cubs tallied three runs each in the second and fourth innings. Five Daytona batters had multi-hit games in a 13-hit assault on Sadler and Quinton Miller. The Marauders scored a run in the third to get within 3-1, and another in the fifth to make it 6-2, but each time Daytona mustered a responding rally. The Cubs turned double plays in the second, third, and fourth and ended the fifth on a bases loaded fly out by Mel Rojas Jr. to turn back the Marauders.
Dickerson went 3-for-3 off Kirk for the second time this season, including a solo homer to lead off the sixth. Dickerson's final line against Kirk for the season is 6-for-6 with three singles, one double, one triple, and a home run. The rest of the Marauders had only four hits off Kirk in 12 innings this year.
With two outs and a 9-4 advantage in the last of the ninth, Ryan Searle walked Gift Ngoepe, yielded a single to Rojas Jr., and surrendered Dickerson's second home run. Dickerson's four RBIs give him 76 this season, extending his league-best total. Searle earned his first save by pitching the final three innings. He struck out Carlos Paulino to end the game after the homer.
Daytona's series opening win assures the Cubs at least a split of the season series, which the Cubs lead 4-1. Game two is Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.