PORT ST. LUCIE -- The Bradenton Marauders (14-9) regained sole possession of first place with a 7-6 win over the St. Lucie Mets (13-10) at Tradition Field on Sunday afternoon. The Marauders led 5-0 after four innings and fended off several long Mets rallies in the back half of the game for the win. John Kuchno (W, 3-2) pitched into the sixth inning to earn the win. Ryan Hafner and Bryton Trepagnier (S, 2) finished the game, with Trepagnier earning a six-out save.
Josh Bell powered the Marauders offense, driving in five runs on the day. Bell started the scoring with a two run homer off Luis Cessa (L, 0-3). The home run was Bell's second of the season. Bell added an RBI-groundout in the third inning to put the Marauders on top 3-0. The next batter, Jose Osuna, added a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 4-0. Bradenton had not led by four or more runs in a game since April 19. The Marauders achieved the largest lead of the game on Jonathan Schwind's RBI-groundout in the fourth.
The Mets plated a run in the fifth inning off Kuchno and put the first two batters on in the bottom of the sixth. Ryan Hafner entered. The Mets proceeded to score three runs, but missed a chance to tie the game. With the tying run at third and one out, a wild pitch sailed to the backstop and caromed back to Bradenton catcher Jin-De Jhang, who caught the runner in a rundown.
With a 5-4 lead in the seventh, Bell came through again. He smashed his third triple of the season to plate two runs. Bell tried to score on a wild throw back to the infield but was cut down at the plate by Mets shortstop Dilson Herrera.
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St. Lucie nearly evened the game again in the eighth against Trepagnier. With two on, Gilbert Gomez launched a triple off the wall in left. Jeff Roy's throw home was cut off by Osuna, who tossed high to third base trying to retire Gomez. Gomez tried to score as the ball rolled away but was thrown out at the plate. The inning ended with Bradenton leading 7-6.
Trepagnier faced trouble again in the ninth, walking a pair of batters with two outs. The righty was able to induce a soft grounder to Osuna at first to end the game.
The Marauders trek to Fort Myers for three commuter games beginning Monday at 7:05 p.m. Orlando Castro will be on the hill for the Marauders. The game will be broadcast live on www.BradentonMarauders.com.