DUNEDIN (July 4, 2013) - The Clearwater Threshers and Dunedin Blue Jays saw a second straight game end in walk-off fashion, as Dunedin edged past Clearwater 5-4 on Independence Day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
The Blue Jays (5-7, 42-36) rallied for two runs off Colton Murray in the bottom of the ninth to even up the three-game set, one day after the Threshers (5-6, 40-39) broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the 12th in the series opener.
Dunedin scraped across the game's first runs as rain began to fall in the third inning. Jon Berti walked and stole second, and one out later Michael Crouse drew a four-pitch walk and teamed up with Berti for a double steal. A wild pitch allowed Berti to score, and K.C. Hobson's infield single brought home Crouse to make it 2-0 Blue Jays.
With a 1-1 count on Gabe Jacobo, the game entered a 20-minute rain delay. Threshers starter Ethan Stewart settled down after the pause, getting Jacobo to pop up to first to end the inning.
Dunedin starter Jesse Hernandez retired the first nine Threshers in order to open the game, before Pete Lavin dropped a single to left to begin the fourth. Lavin would be erased on a caught stealing, but Carlos Alonso followed with a single through the left side.
With Alonso at first, Aaron Altherr belted an 0-1 offering well over the wall in left for his ninth home run of the year, knotting the game up at two.
Kelly Dugan worked his way aboard with a five-pitch walk, and Tommy Joseph ripped a double down the third base line to score Dugan and give the Threshers the 3-2 lead.
The Blue Jays pulled back even in the sixth. Jacobo greeted Threshers righty Ken Giles with a lead-off homer out to dead center to force a 3-3 tie.
Clearwater would squeeze across the go-ahead off reliever John Anderson (3-1) in the eighth. Alonso opened with an infield single, diving in to first a split-second ahead of the throw from the second baseman Berti. With Altherr batting, Anderson committed a balk and later unleashed a wild pitch, placing Alonso on third with nobody out.
Anderson got Altherr to hit a soft comebacker to keep Alonso at third with one out. Dugan followed with a hard grounder to first, and Alonso raced down the line to just beat the throw from the first baseman Hobson and give the Threshers the 4-3 lead.
Clearwater clung to the one-run advantage heading to the ninth, and the Threshers called upon righty Colton Murray (2-6) to face the top of the Dunedin order. Berti singled up the middle to open the inning, and Murray walked Marcus Knecht on four pitches to put the winning run aboard with nobody out.
With Crouse squaring to bunt, Murray uncorked a wild pitch to permit both runners to move up 90 feet. Now with men on second and third, Murray came back to strike out Crouse looking on a fastball for out number one.
The Threshers elected to walk Hobson intentionally to load the bases for Jacobo. With a 1-1 count, Jacobo pushed a liner just fair down the rightfield line, plating both Berti and Knecht to give Dunedin the walk-off win.
Stewart turned in his second straight solid outing, holding Dunedin to two runs on five hits through five innings. The lefty issued two walks and struck out three. Giles allowed a run on two hits in one inning, striking out two. Giles' fastball regularly touched 98 mph in his first appearance since April 20. Jordan Guth held the Blue Jays scoreless through two innings, while Murray recorded just one out in the ninth and suffered the loss.
The Threshers return home to Bright House Field on Friday, as Clearwater and Dunedin will face off in the rubber game at 6:30 p.m. Clearwater will send the Phillies' Minor League Pitcher of the Month in Mario Hollands (4-1) to the hill, while Dunedin will counter with Austin Bibens-Dirkx (4-3). A post-game fireworks show will follow after.