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Bengard pitches Mussels past Marauders 2-1 on Independence Day

By Staff | Jul 5, 2024

FORT MYERS – Spencer Bengard tossed six shutout innings to lead the Mighty Mussels past the Bradenton Marauders 2-1 in front of 5,390 fans Thursday night at Hammond Stadium.

Bengard (6-1) didn’t walk a batter, striking out five while scattering six hits. He threw 54 of his 79 pitches for strikes and lowered his ERA to 1.32. He has now thrown five innings or more in four straight appearances, allowing just two runs over his last 22 innings of work. Bengard also lowered his home ERA to 0.82 with 21 strikeouts to just one walk across 22 innings.

In a scoreless game in the bottom of the fifth, Mussels’ shortstop Nick Lucky drew a leadoff walk. He then advanced all the way to third on a pair of groundouts. Bradenton (35-44, 3-4) lefty reliever Conner Oliver (0-4) then bounced a wild pitch in front of the plate, allowing Lucky to score the game’s first run and put the Mussels (40-37, 9-3) ahead 1-0.

The next inning, Walker Jenkins served an 0-2 pitch from Oliver into left field for a leadoff single. Two batters later, Byron Chourio connected on an opposite field single to put Fort Myers ahead 2-0.

Still a 2-0 game in the eighth, Bradenton second baseman Jeral Toledo worked a leadoff walk against Julio Bonilla. Omar Alfonzo then singled to put two aboard. The next batter was Keiner Delgado who grounded into an RBI fielder’s choice to make it 2-1. After a bunt single from Eddy Rodriguez put the go-ahead run on base, Xander Hamilton was summoned from the bullpen.

Hamilton then retired all five batters he faced to earn his fifth save of the season.

Mussels’ pitching worked around nine hits, all of which were singles and issued just one walk throughout the game. The Marauders had base runners in seven of their nine innings as Bengard, Bonilla and Hamilton stranded eight men on base and held Bradenton to 0-7 with RISP.

The Mussels return to action on today. Twins No.7 prospect Charlee Soto (0-3, 6.58) starts for Fort Myers, opposite Mike Burrows (0-1, 9.00) of Bradenton. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m with coverage beginning on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network at 6:45 p.m.

Mussels squander early lead, fall to Marauders 10-5

BRADENTON – The Mighty Mussels jumped ahead 4-0 in the first inning before the Bradenton Marauders scored 10 unanswered runs to win 10-5 Wednesday night at LECOM Park.

In the top of the first, the Mussels’ Walker Jenkins walked to put the leadoff man aboard for Fort Myers (39-37, 8-3). Centerfielder Byron Chourio followed with a single to set up first and second. Two batters later, Matthew Clayton connected on a two-run double to right field to put the Mussels ahead 2-0. Shortstop Nick Lucky followed with an RBI triple into the right field corner to make it 3-0. With one out, Maddux Houghton then lifted a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 4-0.

Mussels’ starter Ross Dunn (1-2) worked through a scoreless first inning and retired the first two batters in the second before running into trouble. A walk to shortstop Javier Rivas gave the Marauders (35-43, 5-7) a two-out baserunner. Solomon Maguire followed with an infield single. Wesley Zapata then crushed a double to left field, plating both runners to make it 4-2. Third baseman Jeral Toledo followed with a single to left to cut it to 4-3.

With one out in the fourth, first baseman Axiel Plaz homered to left field to tie the game 4-4. Enmanuel Terrero followed with a walk. The next batter was Miguel Sosa, who connected on a two-run shot to left to put the Marauders in front 6-4. There was then a 32-minute weather delay before Ben Ethridge came in from the bullpen to retire the side.

Bradenton starter Hung-Leng Chang (4-5) shut down the Mussels’ offense after the first inning, firing four straight scoreless frames to complete his outing.

The Marauders tacked on four additional runs across their final three offensive innings to take a 10-4 lead into the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Mussels scored on Chourio’s third hit of the game to make it 10-5 as Angel Del Rosario came in to score.