BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Marauders (62-50, 27-16) scored early and struck again late to defeat the Brevard County Manatees (56-50, 20-20) 9-6 on Monday night at McKechnie Field.
Jordan Steranka broke a 6-6 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning with a three-run home run off Scott Lieser (L, 1-1).
The Marauders won three out of four in the series, beat the Manatees in four out of seven meetings this year, and wrap up interdivision play 27-20 against the North Division. The Manatees took advantage of three Bradenton errors in the fifth inning to plate four runs, chasing Chad Kuhl after 4 2/3 innings in the process.
By the time Ryan Hafner (W, 2-4) managed to end the inning, Brevard County had turned a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 lead. Kuhl was charged with all six runs, but only four were earned.
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Hafner did not allow a run over 2 1/3 innings. Yhonathan Barrios (S, 5) fired two innings and stayed perfect on save chances. Bradenton evened the score against Tyler Spurlin in the sixth. With two in scoring position and one out, Jacob Stallings grounded out to third to plate Eric Wood and cut the Manatees lead to 6-5. Justin Maffei lined a two-out single to right to bring home Justin Howard and even the game 6-6. In the seventh, Lieser surrendered a bunt base hit to Walker Gourley and threw the ball away to send Gourley to second.
Jose Osuna bunted back to the hill, and Lieser fired unsuccessfully to third base, leaving men at the corners.
Steranka followed with his seventh home run of the season to put the Marauders up for good. The game went back and forth early.
The Manatees plated a run in the first inning, but the Marauders scored twice in each of the first two innings against Damien Magnifico to take a 4-1 lead. Adam Frazier finished 2-for-5 with two doubles, a run scored, and an RBI. Steranka drove in four runs in the game. Max Moroff also poked two hits, including a double. Jose Osuna’s hitting streak ended at 13 games. The Marauders head into the off day on Tuesday with a half-game lead in the South Division. Bradenton resumes play on Wednesday against Jupiter. The game begins at 6:30 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.