The Brevard County Manatees and Dunedin Blue Jays played their second 12-inning game in six days on Saturday. Brevard County pulled off a dramatic 3-2 win last Sunday, but Saturday it was Dunedin with the late inning magic, winning the game 9-8 in front of the home crowd at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
It was a see-saw game throughout, as each team had multiple opportunities slip away, especially in the late innings. Brevard County had the lead in the eighth and the 11th innings, but couldn’t hold on. That set the stage for the 12th, when Dunedin right fielder Derrick Loveless took the game into his own hands.
In the top of the inning, Loveless caught a ball off the bat of Angel Ortega and threw home to nail Jose Pena, who was pinch-running for Rafael Neda who had walked to start the inning. That completed a double-play and sent the game to the bottom of the 12th.
Emilio Guerrero walked with two outs. A wild pitch by Brevard County closer Casey Medlen (0-1) sent him to third. That brought Loveless up and he laced one down the first base line that Manatees first baseman Garrett Cooper made a dive for. The ball skipped off of Cooper’s glove and down the line in right, scoring Guerrero and giving the Blue Jays the victory. For Medlen, it was his first blown save in four opportunities. He came in to pitch the bottom of the 11th with an 8-6 lead and suffered his first loss of the season.
Things started well for the Manatees (7-9) on this night as they broke on top first against D-Jays starter Jeremy Gabryszwski, who was making his first start of the season. Taylor Brennan and Clint Coulter each hit one-out singles in the first inning. One out later, Cooper singled to score Brennan and make it 1-0.
The Blue Jays (8-9) answered in the bottom of the inning on a Mitch Nay RBI ground out. The Manatees took a 3-1 lead in the top of the third thanks to an RBI ground out by Neda that scored Brennan and put runners at first and third. With Paul Eshleman up, Neda took off for second and drew a throw, allowing Victor Roache to score. For Roache, it was his second steal of home this season. The first was on a similar play.
Dunedin would reclaim the lead in the bottom of the third when Dawel Lugo doubled home Christian Lopes to make it 3-2 and Lopes would come home one out later on a Matt Dean round-tripper, giving the home team a 4-3 lead. That would not be the last time Dean would trot around the bases.
Eshleman led off the fourth with his second home run of the season, tying the game at 4-4. The D-Jays got that run back in the bottom of the inning on an Ian Parmley RBI single, making it a 5-4 game. It wouldn’t stay that way for long, thanks to Roache, who took reliever Alberto Tirado deep and out, giving the Manatees a 6-5 lead. Tirado had come on in relief in the top of the fourth, shortly after the Eshleman long ball.
That score would hold until the eighth inning when Matt Dean hit his second homer of the night to left, this one off of Brevard County reliever Kaleb Earls. After Jimmy Cordero worked two perfect innings for Dunedin, one of which ended with a 100-MPH fastball to Brennan in the ninth.
Scott Silverstein took over for Cordero in the 11th and had a nightmare inning. Eshleman led off with a single and gave way to pinch-runner Steven Halcomb. After Angel Ortega was hit by a pitch, Omar Garcia sacrificed both runners to second and third.
Halcomb would later score on a Chris McFarland single, making it 7-6. Ortega tried to score as well, but he was nabbed on the throw by none other than Loveless, who threw a strike to Jorge Saez at the plate. McFarland later stole second and then Brennan and Coulter drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Roache would earn a walk of his own and the Manatees had an 8-6 lead.
Medlen started the 11th by issuing a free pass to Guerrero. Loveless reached on a throwing error by McFarland, as he threw to second to start would could have been a double play. The throw sailed and the runners moved to second and third. Saez followed with a two-run double into right, making it an 8-8 affair. That took us to the 12th, where it was the Derrick Loveless show.
Brennan ended the night 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. Cooper was 2-for-5 and Eshleman finished his night 3-for-5.
For more info: Brevard County @ Dunedin boxscore
The Manatees road trip continues Sunday when they travel to Lakeland to take on the Flying Tigers, in game one of a three game series. Wei-Chung Wang (1-1, 8.03 ERA), who celebrated his birthday on Saturday will take the mound for the Manatees. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m.