CLEARWATER, FL - In the most thrilling game of the season, the Dunedin Blue Jays (43-22) clinched the second half FSL North Division championship with a 6-5 win in 11 innings over the Clearwater Threshers (41-25) on Saturday night. The game featured four lead changes with Dunedin tying the game in the ninth inning to force extras.
RHP Conor Fisk started the game for Dunedin and ran into early trouble in the first. A 14-pitch at-bat from leadoff man RF Zach Coppola drew a well-earned walk. He later crossed home as the game's first run on a 1B Kyle Martin single. After Martin's single, Fisk settled in and did not allow another baserunner until the sixth, retiring 15 straight batters.
With the Jays down a run, Dunedin took the lead in the top of the fifth inning. All three men at the bottom of the order reached base including a SS Jorge Flores single to tie the game, plating 3B Matt Dean. With one out and LF D.J. Davis on third, CF Anthony Alford brought him home with a groundout. 2B John La Prise added a two-out single to bring in a third run.
In the top of the sixth, DH Max Pentecost socked his second home run in as many nights to put Dunedin up 4-1. Clearwater pulled in closer with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Martin added his second RBI-single of the night followed by a 2B Josh Tobias sac fly.
LHP Tim Mayza (H, 3) escaped trouble in the seventh recording two big outs with runners on first and third to keep Dunedin in the lead. In the bottom of the eighth, Mayza exited after a walk of Martin. RHP Dusty Isaacs (BS, 2) came in for a five-out save. With two down in the eighth, DH Jiandido Tromp belted a no doubt two-run home run to left, giving Clearwater a 5-4 lead.
In the top of the ninth, Dean started the inning with his third hit of the night. After being lifted for pinch runner Josh Almonte, Flores doubled into the left field corner. Despite tripping around second base, Almonte scored the tying run.
In the bottom of the ninth, Isaacs ended the inning with a strike-em-out throw-em-out double play. RHP Chris Rowley (W, 10-3) worked around a single and a two-out error to strand the winning run 90 feet away.
In the top of the 11th, Dickie Joe thon, who subbed in for Dean, led off with a single. D.J. Davis attempted to sacrifice Thon over with a bunt, and an error by C Chace Numata put him on base. Flores then brought both runners over 90 feet, and David Harris, who replaced Alford in the ninth, lifted a fly ball deep enough to score Thon. Dunedin held a 6-5 lead with the run charged to LHP Austin Davis (L, 0-1).
Rowley retired the Threshers in order in the bottom of the inning and the celebration was on for Dunedin. Their win on Saturday means Dunedin will host Game One of the North Division playoff series on Tuesday night at 6:30 PM against the Tampa Yankees. The wrap up the regular season at 3 PM on Sunday with RHP Brad Allen against LHP Brandon Liebrandt.