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Mussels fall inches short against Hammerheads, 4-3

By Staff | Apr 18, 2024

FORT MYERS – The Mighty Mussels were just feet away from forcing their second tie of the game as the Hammerheads gunned down Maddux Houghton at the plate to win the game 4-3 on a laser throw from left fielder Yeral Martinez.

With Jupiter (7-4) leading 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, leadoff batter Cole Elvis drew a four pitch walk to put the tying run aboard. Houghton was then called upon to pinch run.

Jupiter’s Josh Ekness settled in and struck out the next two batters, leaving the Mussels down to their final out. Rayne Doncon followed and roped a 108.4 mph double off the middle of the wall in left field. The ball took a huge ricochet off the wall directly to Martinez who fired a strike to the plate, nabbing Houghton to end the game.

Jupiter took an early lead for the second time in as many nights. Brock Vrandenburg put the Hammerheads ahead 1-0 on an RBI single in the first. In the next inning, third baseman Tony Bullard connected on a two-run home run onto the left field berm, putting Jupiter ahead by three.

Mighty Mussels’ (4-7) starter Ross Dunn settled in after that, keeping Jupiter off the board over his final three innings of work. He finished his outing with two strikeouts, while allowing three runs in five innings on just 58 pitches.

Fort Myers was finally able to break through in the sixth. Brandon Winokur started the rally with a one-out single to center. Two batters later, Rafael Cruz worked a walk to put two aboard. Down in the count 1-2, first baseman Gregory Duran then blasted a game tying home run to dead center field, 106 mph off the batter’s eye for his first homer of the season.

The tie didn’t last long, as the Hammerheads would retake the lead the following inning. Bullard reached on an E6 and came around to score the go-ahead run on a double from second baseman Jordan McCants, making it a 4-3 game.

Nolan Santos and Julio Bonilla both pitched well out of the Mussels’ bullpen, allowing just one unearned run to score across four innings of relief. Bonilla picked up two strikeouts and did not allow a hit in his Low-A debut.

Fort Myers has now lost each of the first two games of the series despite out-hitting Jupiter in both contests.

The Mussels return to action on today at 7:05 p.m for game three of the series. Jeremy Lee (1-1, 2.08) gets the start for Fort Myers, opposite Brandon White (1-0, 3.60) who makes his second start for Jupiter. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network