The Palm Beach Cardinals won the final game of a four-game series in convincing fashion Wednesday night, beating the Brevard County Manatees 9-0, at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. Meanwhile, the Manatees offense was held to two hits.
Palm Beach (23-9, 55-47 overall) got to Brevard County starter Javi Salas (7-7) early and with no offensive support, this one was over quickly.
“It was a tough one,” said Manatees manager Joe Ayrault. “They had a good night and we didn’t have much going on, on the offensive side and they took advantage. We got down early and just couldn’t get back into it.”
Palm Beach scored twice in the second, helped by an error.. After Luke Voit singled with one out, Blake Drake laid down a sacrifice bunt that Salas fielded and threw to first. The throw was off target and the Cardinals had runners at first and second. Carson Kelly’s groundout moved the runners up and Derek Gibson’s two-run double knocked Voit and Drake in, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals added a run in the second inning on a home run to left by leadoff man C.J. McElroy Jr. It was his second homer of the season and of his professional career. Off the bat, it looked like a routine fly ball, but it kept carrying and landed in the bullpen, giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
Palm Beach poured it on in the fourth, tying a season high for runs in an inning with six. The inning lasted 34 minutes.
Voit started the frame with a walk. After Drake singled, both runners moved up on a Salas wild pitch. A sacrifice fly by Kelly made it 4-0. Gibson then sent a single up the middle, making it a five run cushion. Robelys Reyes followed with a single, putting runners at first and second. McElroy, Jr. brought Gibson home with a sac fly, making it 6-0. Danny Diekroeger’s single put runners at first and third and Brett Wiley stepped up and drilled a two-run double to center, chasing home Reyes and Dikroeger. With that Salas exited.
Tristan Archer came out of the pen for the Manatees and got off to a rough start, uncorking two consecutive wild pitches, the second of which was on a swinging third strike by Collin Radack, allowing Wiley to score from third, with the sixth run of the inning and ninth of the contest.
Salas threw 82 pitches, 57 for strikes. He was gave up nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits in 3.2 innings. He walked one and struck out four.
On the other side, Cardinals starter Nick Petree (3-2) was dominant. He pitched seven innings, allowing one hit and racking up five strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Archer did well in relief of Salas, going 4.1 innings and allowing three hits. He walked one and struck out four, throwing 61 pitches, 38 for strikes.
“He threw the ball very well for us,” said Ayrault.
The highlight of the night came in the ninth inning when the Manatees defense turned a 6-4-2-6 double play, started by Angel Ortega. “That was the defensive play of the game,” said Ayrault. “Good job by Ortega being there.”
Offensively, it was all Palm Beach. They pounded out 12 hits, with multi-hit games from McElroy, Jr. Drake and Gibson, who went 3-for-4 in the game, with three RBI. He came into the game with a total of six RBI.
For more info: Palm Beach @ Brevard County boxscore
The Manatees (14-17, 43-57 overall) will look to get back on the winning track tonight, when they travel to Jupiter, to take on the Hammerheads. Brandon Woodruff (1-4, 4.44 ERA) will make his second start since returning from an oblique injury. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.