BRADENTON -- No one brandished brooms Thursday night at McKechnie Field, where the Bradenton Marauders capped an efficient sweep of the once-surging St. Lucie Mets with a 4-1 win.
If they did, the stick should have been in the shape of an arm.
The Marauders hit and ran the bases well while outscoring the Mets 21-9. But the biggest boost came from starting pitchers Chad Kuhl, John Kuchno and Jason Creasy, who allowed four earned runs in 20 2/3 innings.
Creasy's outing Thursday was the most impressive. Under the watchful eye of Kyle Stark, the Pittsburgh Pirates' assistant general manager, and Larry Broadway, the organization's farm director, Creasy cruised, allowing four hits and striking out one while not issuing a walk in seven scoreless innings.
The Marauders are 12-7 in the second half (47-41 overall) and in third place in the South Division, 1½ games behind first-place Palm Beach
and a half game behind the Mets, who entered the series on an eight-game winning streak.
"I wouldn't say it's easier to pitch after guys do good," said Creasy, an eighth-round pick of the Pirates in 2011 who is 5-4 on the year with a 3.29 earned-run average. "But you have a lot more confidence; it's just smoother."
The quick-working righty threw 57 of his 78 pitches for strikes in earning his first win since June 23. Creasy had done his part during that span, however, as Thursday marked the third time in four starts he completed seven innings.
"One thing I've been working on is just keeping the tempo fast," said Creasy, who set down the final seven batters he faced, "and that helps out staying in rhythm, being able to get three up, three down. I wish we could go longer, but I'm not too worried about that. I'm just focused on trying to keep the fastball down and keeping the tempo good."
The Marauders scored first in the fifth on an RBI double by Adam Frazier and added another in the sixth when Eric Wood singled, stole second (one of five steals on the night for Bradenton) and came around on a hit by Jin-De Jhang.
The Mets, who committed six errors, imploded in the seventh. Josh Bell walked with two outs and went to third when right fielder Endy Pina bobbled a single off the bat of Jose Osuna, then scored when Pina made a throwing error on the same play. Jordan Steranka followed with a grounder to second that appeared to end the inning. But first baseman Anderlin Rodriguez couldn't handle E.J. Mazzilli's low throw, allowing Osuna to score from second.
A ceremony conducted prior to the game honored the memory of Evan Chambers, a former Marauders outfielder who passed away in December at the age of 24. The Marauders presented two framed jerseys to Chambers' family and officially retired his number with a black and yellow plaque hanging on the right field boardwalk.
A Lakeland native, Chambers donated his time to various organizations in the Bradenton area, including the Dream Oaks Camp, a non-profit for children between the ages of 7 and 17 who have special needs and chronic or terminal illnesses.
"Evan really, really loved going there to play with the children," said his father, Dr. Evan Chambers. "Whenever he went there, he called or sent me pictures. It was a special time for him."
When the Marauders took the field Thursday, campers from Dream Oaks all ran to center field, which is where Chambers spent most of his time as a Marauder.