The Marauders (24-28) extended their season-long winning streak to five with a 3-2 win in 12 innings against the Fort Myers Miracle (26-27) on Saturday night at McKechnie Field. The game featured a 97 minute rain delay at the outset, a benches clearing brawl in the fourth inning, and a bases-loaded balk to force in the winning run in the 12th. The win was Bradenton's first in eight trips to Hammond Stadium this season.
Starting pitchers Jason Wheeler and Robby Rowland had nearly identical pitching lines. Both starters tossed 6 2/3 innings with only one unearned run allowed. Wheeler struck out six Marauders batters, while Rowland induced 11 outs on the ground from the Fort Myers lineup. Neither was around to factor in the decision.
With two outs and nobody on in the top of the fourth inning, Wheeler grazed Dan Gamache with a pitch. A benches clearing incident escalated, with both managers being ejected. In addition to Bradenton's Frank Kremblas and Miracle skipper Doug Mientkiewicz fourth inning ejections, Marauders' pitching coach Justin Meccage was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes in the eighth.
Fort Myers plated the first run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Mike Kvasnicka singled with one out, then advanced all the way to third when the ball bounced past Benji Gonzalez in centerfield. J.D. Williams plated the run with a sacrifice fly.
Bradenton tied the game in the seventh with aggressive base running. Gonzalez singled with two outs to chase Wheeler. After Gonzalez stole second, Gift Ngoepe reached on an infield hit to put runners at the corners against Nelvin Fuentes. Ngoepe was picked off while trying to steal second, but first baseman D.J. Hicks threw wildly to second, allowing the run to score. The Marauders took a 2-1 lead in the following inning when Jose Osuna doubled off Fuentes to bring in Gamache.
Orlando Castro retired the first two Miracle batters in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jhon Goncalves walked with two away. Stephen Wickens followed with a double that fell narrowly fair in right as Willy Garcia attempted a sliding catch. Garcia gunned home, but Goncalves was able to score when Jacob Stallings couldn't fully secure the catch.
Fort Myers loaded the bases with two outs against Robbie Kilcrease in the ninth, but the lefty struck Goncalves out swinging. Batters are 0-for-10 against Kilcrease with the bags full this year. Kilcrease also escaped a second and third, one out jam in the 10th.
In the top of the 12th, Adrian Salcedo (L, 5-3) imploded for the Miracle. He retired Carlos Mesa to start the inning, but then walked Gonzalez, Ngoepe, and D.J. Crumlich. With Stetson Allie batting, Salcedo balked to force in the deciding run. Allie walked, but was then doubled off first when Garcia lined out.
Kirk Singer (W, 1-0) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win, his first professional victory. Singer previously played the infield, and had appeared in only six professional games on the mound before being promoted to Bradenton Thursday.