The Palm Beach Cardinals took advantage of three Brevard County errors Tuesday, helping them to a 3-1 win over the Manatees in game three of a four-game series.
It was an odd night for the Manatees defense, because while they had difficulty at times in the field, they also some sparkling plays including two catches in foul territory by first baseman Garrett Cooper, that he ran down and caught it with his back to the field. They also made a couple plays on the infield that were impressive, but were overshadowed by the errors that led to runs.
Palm Beach got on the board against ‘Tess starter Wei-Chung Wang, in the fourth inning. With one out, Cards’ first baseman Luke Voit hit a can of corn to right field that was caught by Clint Coulter. Unfortunately, back at home plate umpire Kirk Struble called catchers’ interference against Rafael Neda, allowing Voit to go to first. Blake Drake followed with a double, just inside the leftfield line, moving Voit to third. Carson Kelly was next up and he hit a foul pop to Cooper, which would have been the third out, but instead allowed Voit to score the first run of the game.
The Cardinals (22-9, 54-47) added two more runs in the fifth inning. Robelys Reyes started the inning with an infield single. One out later, Danny Diekroeger hit a ball to second that Chris McFarland bobbled as he tried to toss to second, to start the double play. Instead, there were runners at first and second. An RBI single by Brett Wiley scored Reyes, to make it a 2-0 game and Collin Radack’s sacrifice fly, gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead. Wiley’s single was one of three hits on the night. He also had a double in the seventh inning.
That was more than enough run support for Palm Beach starter Trey Nielsen (9-6), who pitched seven innings of four-hit baseball, inducing a couple key double plays early in the game, helping his cause. He had one strikeout and did not walk a batter.
Wang (7-3) pitched much better than the results would show. He threw 91 pitches in six innings of work, allowing six hits. All three runs against him were unearned. He struck out three Palm Beach hitters. Mark Williams pitched the last three innings for the Manatees and had four strikeouts in his first two innings.
Brevard County (14-16, 43-56) avoided the shutout, with a run in the eighth against reliever Lee Stoppleman. With two outs, Jose Pena drew a walk and went to second on a single by Angel Ortega. Omar Garcia plated Pena with a double to left. That closed the gap to 3-1 and put an end to Stoppleman’s night.
Josh Lucas came in to face McFarland, with Ortega standing at third. Lucas got the job done, fanning McFarland to end the inning. Lucas did allow a single to Taylor Brennan in the ninth, but the game ended on a Michael Ratterree pop out to short. With that, Lucas notched his third save of the season.
For more info: Palm Beach @ Brevard County boxscore
Offensively, the Manatees got two hits each from McFarland and Neda. Cooper ended his night going 0-for-4 at the plate, ending his 12-game hitting streak.
The Manatees will go for the split in the series on Wednesday. Javi Salas (7-6, 3.44 ERA) will get the ball for Brevard County. Palm Beach will counter with Nick Petree (2-2, 3.67 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 P.M.