Michael Suchy’s final swing of Saturday’s second game of the Florida State League Championship Series was nearly the perfect cap to an already monster night.
With a runner on first base and one out in the eighth, the outfielder stood at the plate with a pair of RBIs already under his belt. He fought back from an 0-2 deficit for a full count before ripping a line drive out to right field. A few feet higher and the Marauders’ might have had a game-tying run. A few feet shorter and Bradenton certainly would have had a runner in scoring position.
Instead, Suchy’s screamer landed in Tito Polo’s glove. One batter later, the Marauders’ best chance at extending Game 2 was over. Three outs after that, the Pirates’ Class A Advanced affiliate returned to the clubhouse following a 5-4 loss to the Yankees in Game 2 of the Florida State League (FSL) Championship Series at McKechnie Field.
“The ball’s not going to find a hole every time you get up to the plate,” Suchy said, “so I’m just looking forward to each at-bat I do get after it.”
Despite Suchy’s best game of the postseason, the series is even at 1. Remaining games in the series will be in Bradenton because the Yankees’ George M. Steinbrenner Field is undergoing renovations. Tampa will be the designated home team for the rest of the series.
Suchy, who starred at Southeast High School before playing three years for Florida Gulf Coast, drilled one of the Marauders’ three solo home runs and drove in another run with a sixth-inning single to left that tied the game at 4. New York’s FSL team pulled back ahead for good in the top of the seventh.
“It’s going to take five perfect games to win this whole thing,” Suchy said. “We’ve got three down, we need two more. We hit well, but we’re still trying to strive for that perfection.”
Suchy, Jordan Luplow and Kevin Kramer hit solo home runs, only to have a shaky outing by starting pitcher Austin Coley derail Bradenton’s bid to take a commanding lead in the series.
Coley got in trouble early during Saturday’s game, hitting the second batter. With a runner on first, Yankees outfielder Rashad Crawford laced a line drive to right-center field. Suchy charged toward center and lunged for the ball, coming up short. The ball rolled into the gap for a run-scoring double.
The missed ball in right field was one of the few mistakes Suchy has made this postseason since going 0 for 4 in Game 1 of the FSL semifinals against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. On Saturday, the Bradenton native went 2 for 4 and worked a 2-0 count during his second at-bat to hit his first postseason home run.
It’s going to take five perfect games to win this whole thing.
Michael Suchy, Marauders outfielder and Southeast High School alumnus
The Marauders were at their best in Game 2 when they attacked fastballs. Luplow, whose second-inning homer tied the game at 1, pulled a 2-2 fastball over the left-field fence. In the fifth, Kramer swung at a first-pitch fastball to lead off the inning. His homer cut Tampa’s lead to 4-3.
Suchy tied the game with a single an inning later, but Tampa answered with a go-ahead run off relief pitcher Nick Neumann (0-1) during the next half inning. Justin Kamplain (1-0) finished a scoreless inning during the bottom of the seventh, and combined with Jordan Foley and Dillon McNamara, who notched his second playoff save, for 3 1/3 scoreless innings to finish the game.
“I think we’re a good team when we attack the fastball, especially early in the counts,” manager Michael Ryan said. “That’s exactly what we did. All the home runs that we hit were early.
“We’ve just got to try to do it with runners on base.”
Who: Bradenton at Tampa
What: Game 3, best-of-five series tied at 1
When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
Where: McKechnie Field, Bradenton
Probable pichers: Mitch Keller (1-0, 0.00) vs. Yefrey Ramirez (3-7, 2.84)
Online: Game audio is livestreamed on BradentonMarauders.com or via the TuneIn app.
Note: Bradenton will be the designated away team. Game is in Bradenton because Tampa’s stadium is undergoing renovations.