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Kanzler paces Miracle to Game 1 win
Twins prospect hits game-tying grand slam, plates six in FSL opener
09/03/2014 12:41 AM ET
Jason Kanzler had never plated more than three runs in game before Tuesday. (Fort Myers Miracle)

When Jason Kanzler's bullpen went nuts, he knew it was a whole new ballgame. 

The Minnesota outfield prospect led the way with a homer and six RBIs as Class A Advanced Fort Myers defeated host Bradenton, 8-7, in the first game of the best-of-3 Florida State League semifinals series.

In a game in which 14 runs were scored by the end of the fourth inning, Kanzler's early outburst paced the Miracle. The 24-year-old capped the second with a two-RBI double, staking the club to a 3-0 lead. With the team trailing, 7-3, Kanzler knotted the game with a grand slam.

"It's playoff baseball, everyone's just trying to help the team win," Kanzler said. "I figured [Jhondaniel Medina] was going to throw a fastball based on our pitching chart. I just told myself if it was there, I was going to swing hard.

"I knew I hit it real well. I'm still not used to the Florida State League air, but I saw my bullpen start freaking out when it was halfway out so I figured they had a better view then me. That's when I gave a little fist pump."

Two innings later, Dalton Hicks broke the tie game with an RBI single that plated Travis Harrison.

Fort Myers, which finished with the best overall record at 82-57, will get two cracks at finishing off the series, starting Wednesday in Game 2. As the first-half South Division champion, the Miracle will host Wednesday's contest, and if necessary, Game 3 on Thursday.

"It's really important, better than going down, 1-0," said Kanzler, who had never had more than three RBIs in a regular-season game. "Now we have momentum, it's real good momentum, to know that we can come back after spotting them a seven-run inning, it's huge."

Kanzler's outburst came against Pirates' top prospect Tyler Glasnow, who was named the league's top pitcher on Aug. 26. Glasnow surrendered six runs on two hits and walked six over three innings but did not figure into the decision.

"[Manager] Doug [Mientkiewicz] told us this guy is pretty good, just battle him and get him out of the game," Kanzler said. "We went deep into the counts, took our walks and attacked when we needed to."

After Fort Myers starter Brett Lee allowed seven unearned runs on four hits over 1 2/3 innings, the bullpen shut down the Marauders the rest of the way, giving up two hits over the final 7 1/3 frames. Todd Van Steensel picked up the win, allowing a hit in the fifth -- his sole inning of work, while Zack Jones fanned two in a perfect ninth to earn the save.

"Our bullpen was fantastic," Kanzler said. "It got everyone fired up."

Adam Walker drew four walks and scored twice for the Miracle.

The Marauders' Jordan Steranka drove in three runs.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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