Nolasco grand slam sinks Mussels, 9-5
FORT MYERS – Despite a big fifth inning, the Mighty Mussels allowed a go-ahead grand slam in the final inning Thursday in a 9-5 loss to the Bradenton Marauders at Hammond Stadium.
Tied at five in the top of the seventh, Rodolfo Nolasco sent a go-ahead grand slam down the line in left to give Bradenton (74-53, 39-23) a 9-5 lead. The ball traveled 403 feet at 106 mph for Nolasco’s third homer of the series, and ninth against Fort Myers (66-62, 32-30) this year.
After a two-hour weather delay, the Mussels jumped on the board first in the bottom of the first when Jay Harry singled to center and stole second. With two outs in the frame, Nate Baez ripped a line-drive double to left that scored Harry to put Fort Myers up 1-0.
In the bottom of the third, Danny De Andrade singled and stole second to open the inning. With one out, Yohander Martinez rolled a grounder to left for an RBI single that extended the lead to 2-0.
In the top of the fourth, Kalae Harrison and Esmerlyn Valdez drew back-to-back walks and Jesus Castillo was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a wild pitch from reliever Danny Moreno, Harrison came around to score to make it 2-1. Later in the frame, Enmanuel Terrero sent a liner off the glove of Baez at first to bring home Valdez and tie the game at 2-2.
Still tied in the top of the fifth, Mitch Jebb singled and advanced to second on a ground out. The next hitter was Deivis Nadal who poked a single to left to score Jebb and give Bradenton a 3-2 lead. Later in the frame, Omar Alfonzo and Terrero notched RBI singles to push the advantage to 5-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Mussels answered back when Ricardo Olivar singled with one out ahead of De Andrade, who launched an RBI double to the wall to cut the deficit to 5-3. The next hitter was Baez, who lined a double to center to make it a one-run game. Martinez followed with an RBI single to center to bring home Baez and tie the game at 5-5.
With the win, Bradenton remains 2.5 games back of Lakeland for the final playoff spot with three games to play in 2023.
The Mussels will return to the diamond today when they send Matt Gabbert (2-0, 3.52) to the hill to counter Owen Kellington (1-2, 3.67) of the Marauders. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. with coverage beginning at 6:45 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.