VIERA, Fla. - Behind six stolen bases and another strong performance Tyler Wagner the Brevard County Manatees defeated the Jupiter Hammerheads, 5-4 at Space Coast Stadium on Monday night.
Wagner (10-4, 1.53 ERA) was phenomenal once again. The Florida State League All-Star went six innings and allowed just one unearned run on two measly hits, which tied a season-low. Wagner walked one and struck out en route to his team-best 10th victory of the season.
With tonight's performance, Wagner lowered his Florida State League-leading ERA to an incredible 1.53. If he continues his pace, the right-hander will record the best earned run average in the FSL since the Manatees (18-15 second half, 54-45 overall) were founded in 1994. Wagner's current mark is slightly better than the 1.66 ERA that Daytona's Courtney Duncan recorded back in 1997.
Despite the strong start, Wagner barely held on to the victory, as Jupiter (10-26, 37-68) stormed back in the seventh and eighth innings.
With the Manatees in front 4-1, Stephen Peterson came on to relieve Wagner to start the seventh and quickly the Hammerheads' bats came alive. Avery Romero lined a single to left and Chad Wallach immediately singled him to third.
The next batter, Jesus Solorzano, grounded a ball through the hole between third and short. Romero scored easily and Wallach jogged into second, as the lead was trimmed to 4-2.
That was all Jupiter would get in the frame. Peterson sandwiched a strikeout between to fly outs to center to keep the Brevard lead intact.
However, the 'Tees would get a run back in the bottom of the frame thanks to some incredible heads up baserunning by Orlando Arcia. After he reached on a single to begin the inning, he advanced to second on a ground out to third by Michael Reed.
With two outs, on the first pitch, Cameron Garfield hit a slow roller towards short. Justin Bohn charged onto the infield grass, but the ball ricocheted off his glove and Arcia advanced to third on the error.
However, Bohn overran the ball, as well. Noticing this, Arcia broke for home and scored without a play to push the lead back up to three.
Jupiter's bats remained hot, as they peppered Peterson again to start the eighth. Colin Moran, Matt Juengel and Viosergy Rosa singled consecutively to start the frame, which chased the left-hander from the ball game.
Mark Williams came on to halt the rally and started strong, as he forced Romero to ground one back to the mound to get the force at home.
Yet, the attack was not over. Continuing to be a menace with the lumber, Chad Wallace roped his third hit of the night into left-center field. Juengel and Rosa scored, while Romero slid into third with the tying run, as the Manatees' lead was cut to 5-4.
That was as close as Jupiter would get. Williams induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play off the bat off Solorzano to get out of the jam.
In the ninth, the Hammerheads could not even sniff a baserunner. Williams recorded three straight air outs, two to center and one to second, to shut the door on his team-leading 10th save of the year.
Brevard tallied their first four runs in the first and third innings. In the first, Orf hit the Manatees' first lead-off home run of the year on a shot the bounced off the left field foul pole.
After Jupiter tied it on Wallach's first RBI, a double down the left field line, the 'Tees erupted for three in the third. Following Reed's go-ahead single to center, he initiated a double steal that allowed Arcia to swipe home. Reed would later score the third run of the inning on a wild pitch.
Despite a terrific night at the plate, Brevard County took advantage of the catcher, Wallach, defensively. The Manatees swiped a season-high six bases, including a career-high three from Reed, en route to their second straight win.
Three Manatees hitters - Orf, Arcia and Garrett Cooper - tallied multi-hit games. Cooper led all 'Tees with three hits, which was a season-best and also tied a career-high.
The Manatees will look to make it three-in-a-row tomorrow, as the battle the Hammerheads again. First pitch at Space Coast Stadium is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Hobbs Johnson (9-7, 3.13) will look to tie Wagner for the team-lead in wins against fellow right-hander Matt Milroy (0-5, 10.72).