Threshers handcuff Miracle 3-2
CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Threshers opened a 3-0 lead through five innings Thursday night, then held off a late rally to defeat the Fort Myers Miracle 3-2.
The loss is the fourth in a row for the Miracle (15-13, 49-48), who now find themselves in third place in the Florida State League South Division, 1 1/2 games behind the St. Lucie Mets.
The Threshers (18-10) opened the scoring in the first inning. Miracle starter Randy LeBlanc retired the first two hitters on ground balls, but surrendered a double to Scott Kingery. Following a walk to Mitch Walding, Chace Numata lined a single to left to score Kingery with the first run of the evening.
Clearwater added to its lead in the fifth. With one out, Carlos Tocci walked, went to third on a single by Malquin Canelo and scored when a throw by Miracle catcher A.J. Murray sailed into center field for an error. Walding doubled to left to score Canelo for a 3-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, the Miracle bats were silent against Clearwater starter Will Morris, who retired the first 17 batters before allowing back-to-back walks to Murray and T.J. White with two outs in the sixth. The visitors came away empty-handed, however, as Chris Paul struck out to end the inning.
Fort Myers finally broke through in the seventh as Reynaldo Rodriguez, playing in his first game for the Miracle, took care of the no-hitter and shutout with one swing of the bat by blasting a home run to left-center to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Miracle closed the gap to 3-2 off of the Threshers’ bullpen one inning later on Chris Paul’s two-out RBI single to left. Pinch-runner Daniel Kihle, who was on second base when Paul singled, also tried to score on the play, but was thrown out at home to end the inning.
LeBlanc (3-4) suffered the loss after allowing six hits and three runs in six innings of work, walking three and striking out six.
The Miracle and Threshers meet again at 6:15 p.m. on Friday.