Timely hitting and dominant pitching take down Cardinals on Wednesday night
JUPITER, Fla. (May 3, 2017) – The Florida Fire Frogs used a combination of timely hitting and dominant pitching to sweep a doubleheader from the Palm Beach Cardinals on Wednesday night at Roger Dean Stadium, 8-1 and 5-0.
Game 1: Florida 8, Palm Beach 1
Both pitchers battled it out deep into game one, but Florida (11-15) busted through with a five-spot against Junior Fernandez (1-1) in the sixth to pull away late.
Tyler Neslony (1×2, R, 2B) started the frame as a pinch hitter and roped his team-leading, seventh double of the season into the left-field corner. Jonathan Morales (2×4, 2 R) poked a single to center to put runners on the corners for Ronald Acuna (0x4), who struck out for the first out.
Alex Jackson (0x2, R, BB, HBP) was intentionally walked to load the bases for Austin Riley (1×2, R, RBI, BB, HBP), who obliged by lifting a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Neslony for the first run of the game.
Braxton Davidson (0x2, 2 R, 2 BB) drew a free pass in front of Carlos Castro (2×3, R, HR, 5 RBI, HBP), who belted a 1-0 pitch to center. Magnerius Sierra tracked the drive to the wall and made a leaping attempt, but the ball caromed off the outfielder’s glove and landed over the wall for the first grand slam in Fire Frogs history.
Palm Beach (14-11) responded with a run against Luiz Gohara (3-0) in the home half of the frame. Randy Arozarena singled with one out against the lefty and moved up to second, two batters later, when Chris Chinea worked a walk. Danny Diekroeger placed a single to left, plating Arozarena to break up the shutout bid.
Gohara won his third consecutive decision with the one run allowed over six frames in game one on Wednesday. The 20-year-old worked around five hits and two walks, while collecting three strikeouts. The fifth-year professional has worked five, or more, innings in five of his six starts in 2017.
Florida poured on three more insurance runs in the seventh to ensure a victory in the opener. Castro was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in his fifth RBI of the game. Alejandro Salazar (2×4, 2B, 2 RBI) drove in two more with a two-run double to the gap in left-center to open up a seven-run advantage for the visitors.
Chase Johnson-Mullins allowed two baserunners in the seventh, but no damage was done against the 6’9″ lefty in the final inning.
Acuna’s 11-game on-base streak came to an end in the game-one victory, as the 19-year-old finished 0-for-4 on the night.
Game 2: Florida 5, Palm Beach 0
Florida (12-15) jumped up early with a run in the first to snatch the quick lead. Ray-Patrick Didder (2×4, R, 2 RBI, SB) stroked a single to left on the first pitch of the game to put speed on first. The native of Aruba swiped second with Jonathan Morales (0x4) at the plate to put a runner in scoring position.
Morales moved the runner over on a grounder back to the mound. Ronald Acuna (0x2, RBI) drove Didder in on a sacrifice fly to right to give the Fire Frogs a 1-0 advantage in the opening inning.
Tyler Pike (2-1) took the lead and ran with it over his six innings in the night cap. The lefty took a no-hit bid into the third before a two out single from Thomas Spitz ended the run. The product of Winter Haven High School blanked the Cardinals over six frames on two hits, two walks and eight strikeouts for his second consecutive win.
The Fire Frogs broke game two open with three insurance runs in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead.
Braxton Davidson (2×3, R) ripped a single up the middle to start things out and moved over to third on a single to center from Carlos Castro (1×3, R). Alay Lago (1×3, 2 R, RBI) hit a sharp grounder to short that was booted by Edmundo Sosa, making all hands safe and scoring Davidson for the 2-0 edge.
Alejandro Salazar (1×2) sacrificed the runners over with a bunt, and Didder singled the two men home with a shot up to center to moved Florida’s advantage to four.
Didder tacked on the final run of the night when the outfielder bounced into a double play with runners on the corners in the seventh, scoring Lago for the fifth run in the finale.
Corbin Clouse tossed a perfect bottom of the seventh, striking out Darren Sefarina to complete the sweep.
Zac Gallen (2-2) suffered the loss for Palm Beach (14-12), as the right-hander allowed four runs – three earned – on five hits and seven strikeouts.
The Fire Frogs will go for the series victory in game four of the four-game series on Thursday morning at Roger Dean Stadium. LHP Drew Harrington (2-2, 2.54) toes the rubber for Florida against Palm Beach’s RHP Derian Gonzalez (0-3, 7.65). First pitch is set for 10:30 a.m.
Florida returns to Osceola County Stadium on Friday, May 5 for game one of a three-game series against the Clearwater Threshers. The first night of that series will be Cinco de Mayo, where fans can join the Fire Frogs in celebrating the Mexican-American heritage in baseball and the Central Florida community. May 5 will also be First Pitch Happy Hour at the ballpark, featuring $2 domestic drafts, $1 fountain drinks, or a $3 run drink! Happy Hour lasts from doors opening until first pitch. The series opener will feature a fireworks display at the end of the matchup.
About the Florida Fire Frogs
The Florida Fire Frogs are the Advanced-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves and compete in the Florida State League. The Fire Frogs play their home games at Osceola County Stadium, located at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla. For more information, please visit www.FloridaFireFrogs.com, and follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.