DUNEDIN – The Marauders (19-24) succumbed to a three-run Blue Jays (31-11) rally in the ninth, falling 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Marcus Knecht brought home the tying and winning runs with a two-out single to left field off Robby Rowland (L, 1-4) to send Dunedin to victory.
Bradenton led 4-2 into the bottom of the ninth, but Christian Lopes opened the inning with a double off the wall in left. Jorge Flores singled home Lopes in front of Dwight Smith Jr., who doubled to put two in scoring position and nobody out in a 4-3 game. Rowland induced pop outs Blue Jays leading hitter Dalton Pompey and Florida State League RBI leader K.C. Hobson, but Knecht lined a 2-1 pitch to left field to score Flores and Smith.
Dunedin opened the scoring on Hobson’s run-scoring single in the first inning off John Kuchno. The Marauders took the lead for the first time in the top of the third when Ashley Ponce laced an RBI-triple to right field and then scored on a grounder to first by Taylor Lewis to give the Marauders a 2-1 edge. The Blue Jays struck again to tie it against Kuchno, as Knecht doubled to lead off the home half of the fourth and immediately scored on Nick Baligod’s single.
Kuchno pitched 5 1/3 innings for the Marauders, striking out three and walking three. Thomas Harlan pitched 2 2/3 innings and struck out four without allowing a run. Dunedin starter Taylor Cole struck out seven over six innings while allowing two runs.
The Marauders took their final lead in the seventh. Max Moroff reached on an error and stole second, then moved to third on a ground out by Jonathan Schwind. Jacob Stallings walked. Ponce followed with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Moroff and moved Stallings to second base. Stallings scored on a single by Taylor Lewis to give Bradenton a 4-2 advantage it would hold until the ninth.
The series finale is Monday night at 6:30 p.m. in Dunedin. Pat Ludwig is slated to start for the Marauders. The game will be broadcast online at www.BradentonMarauders.com.
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