The Brevard County Manatees used good pitching and the big bat of Garrett Cooper to split a doubleheader against the Palm Beach Cardinals on Monday. Cooper hit one home run in each game. His first propelled the Manatees to a 4-2 win in game one, while his second held up through five innings, before the Cardinals scored two runs in the sixth, winning 2-1.
The first game was picked up in the bottom of the second inning, where it was Sunday when the rains came and suspended play. Stephen Peterson was on for the Manatees Monday, taking over for Cy Sneed, who had three strikeouts when the game was halted Sunday.
Peterson (3-2) gave up a run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Danny Diekroeger. He gave up two hits in the inning, but then settled in nicely. He allowed one hit in the fifth and one in the seventh, before being pulled. He allowed four hits over 4.1 innings, striking out one and walking none. He threw 63 pitches, 40 for strikes. “Peterson was outstanding, said Manatees manager Joe Ayrault. “He picked us up big.”
By the time Peterson left, he was in line for the win, thanks to the two runs the Manatees scored in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Cardinals hurler Blake McKnight plunked Clint Coulter with a pitch. Cooper followed with a single, chasing McKnight from the game, in favor of Silfredo Garcia. Taylor Brennan greeted him with a double over the left fielders head, scoring Coulter and Cooper. That gave the Manatees the lead, 2-1.
Trevor Seidenberger, who finished the seventh for Peterson, escaped trouble in the eighth, stranding a runner at third. He pitched 1.2 innings, striking out one and was credited with a hold.
The Manatees (14-15, 43-55) added some insurance in the bottom of the inning when Omar Garcia led off with a single and stole second. It was his 39th steal of the season. After two were out in the inning, Cooper sent a slider deep over the leftfield wall, putting the Manatees up 4-1. The home run traveled 422 feet and was Cooper’s fifth of the season.
“It was a 2-2 pitch and they were throwing me sliders the first couple at-bats today,” said Cooper. “I was a little bit out in front of them earlier, but this time I was sitting on it and put a good swing on it.”
Cooper ended up going 3-for-4 in game one, while Garcia and Brennan went 2-for-4.
Carson Kelly’s RBI double against Preston Gainey in the top of the ninth, cut the Cardinals deficit to 4-2, but Gainey got Derek Gibson to ground out, ending the Palm Beach threat and earning Gainey his fourth save.
Collin Radack and Robelys Reyes had two hits each for the Cardinals.
For more info: Palm Beach @ Brevard County boxscore (game 1)
In game two, Zach Hirsch (1-1) took the mound for the Manatees, making his second start. His first outing came back on July 21 against Tampa, also in the second game of a doubleheader. Hirsch got the win in that game, but fell just short in Monday’s game.
The only offense he would get came in the second inning off the bat of Cooper, who drilled a 380-foot line drive into the bullpen in left, against Cardinals starter Corey Littrell. Cooper’s sixth long ball of the season gave the Manatees a 1-0 lead.
“Earlier in the first inning he was throwing Omar and Chris McFarland 1-1 changeups,” said Cooper. “I got to 1-1 and pretty much sat on a changeup and I got it and put a good swing on it.”
Hirsch pitched well for five innings, overcoming two errors and getting out of a couple jams. Unfortunately, the Cardinals (21-9, 53-47) got to him in the sixth, scoring two runs on RBI doubles from Radack and Blake Drake.
“He dealt,” said Cooper, when asked about the outing by Hirsch. “He’s got the fast pace on the mound and mixed his speeds in and out. He’s a good pitcher.”
Ayrault echoed Cooper’s sentiments on Hirsch. “He was real good, he had real good tempo, filling the zone and mixed his pitches well,” Ayrault said. “He did a good job with the exception of the sixth, that’s where they got him.”
Hirsch completed six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs. He didn’t walk a batter or record a strikeout. He threw 81 pitches, 54 for strikes.
Ayrault was pleased with the offensive effort in that second game, but acknowledged that the big hit eluded his squad.
“We hit a few balls hard right at them later in the ballgame,” said Ayrault. We had some well hit balls, just couldn’t find the holes. Tip your hat to their starter, he threw the ball well.”
Jose Pena and Paul Eshleman had the only other hits in game two for the Manatees, besides Cooper’s homer.
For more info: Palm Beach @ Brevard County boxscore (game 2)
Game three of the series is scheduled for Tuesday. Wei-Chung Wang (7-2, 4.24 ERA) will get the call for the Manatees, he will be opposed by Nick Petree (2-2, 3.67 ERA). Game time is set for 6:35 p.m.