BRADENTON -- It's a new half and a new-look offense for the Bradenton Marauders.
Bedeviled by the inability to score runs during the first 70 games of the Florida State League season, the Marauders swung the batters better during their recent three-game series against Fort Myers.
Thursday night, they nearly swung them well enough to pull off a huge comeback.
Bradenton lost 7-6 to the Miracle in front of 4,874 fans at McKechnie Field but made things exciting after falling behind 7-1 in the fifth inning of Thursday's Celebration of America game.
In fact, the Marauders had two on and two out in the ninth before a sudden thunderstorm halted play for 56 minutes. Once the game resumed, Jose Osuna struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball.
It was a frustrating finish for Bradenton (43-40, 8-6 second half), which nearly did enough to sweep the South Division's first-half champions.
Osuna played a key role in getting the Marauders that far when he doubled and scored during a four-run sixth inning. Jordan Steranka and Josh Bell drove in runs during that inning as well. It was the byproduct of a potentially productive heart of a lineup that took a hit during the first half when Steranka and Osuna were sidelined with oblique injuries.
Despite missing a month, Steranka is second on the team with six home runs, and his two RBIs Thursday give him 21 in 41 games. The Pittsburgh native has 14 RBIs in his last 11 games.
The Marauders drew a run closer in the seventh on a bloop double that scored Jacob Stallings. But Bradenton stranded the tying run on third in the seventh and eighth innings before Miracle closer Tyler Jones pitched out of danger in the ninth.
Fort Myers' Adam Brett Walker hit his 17th home run and second of the series. One of the Minnesota Twins' top-20 prospects, Walker likes hitting at McKechnie: He won the home run derby prior to the FSL All-Star Game on June 14 and then came within a triple of hitting for the cycle to nab the game's MVP award.
Adam Frazier, Moroff, Bell, Steranka and Walker Gourley had two hits apiece for Bradenton, which scored 18 runs during the three-game series against a Miracle team ranked third in the league in ERA (3.13) heading into Thursday night's action.
Matt Benedict, back with the Marauders after beginning the year in Double-A Altoona, retired all five batters he faced in relief.