CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Clearwater Threshers came up with big plays in the late innings to help lead the way to a 5-2 victory in the series opener against the Dunedin Blue Jays at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium on Thursday night. All five tallies for the visitors went up in the final four innings.
With Dunedin (19-13) leading 1-0 heading into the sixth, Clearwater (14-19) struck for two runs to take the late lead.
Nick Maton singled with one out against Kyle Weatherly (0-1), and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jake Scheiner reached on an infield single to put runners on first and second for Rodolfo Duran, who flew out to center.
Daniel Brito kept the inning alive by drawing a seven-pitch walk to load the bases for Ben Aklinski, who banged a double down the first base line to drive home two for the lead. The two bagger extended the Kentucky product's hitting streak to five games, in which the 22-year-old is .333 with five runs driven in.
Andrew Brown (2-3) held the Blue Jays off the scoreboard in the bottom half of the frame to pick up his first quality start of the season. The 21-year-old allowed just one run through six frames on three hits, a walk and four strikeouts in the winning effort.
The road team tacked on an insurance run in the seventh on Maton's RBI single to right, scoring Madison Stoke's for the 3-2 advantage.
Dunedin struck a solo home run off the bat of Luis De Los Santos against Austin Ross in the eighth, but Clearwater responded with two in the ninth to create extra separation.
Simon Muzziotti walked to start things off, and advanced to second on an infield single by Alec Bohm. Stokes placed down a sacrifice bunt to push the runners up 90 ft., paving way to Matt Vierling's two-run double to the gap in right center for the three-run lead.
Jonathan Hennigan (SV, 6) retired the side in order in the bottom half of the final frame to earn his sixth save in as many chances.
The Threshers go for the series victory in game two of the three-game set against the Blue Jays at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium on Friday night. RHP Julian Garcia (1-2 3.70) takes the mound for Clearwater against Dunedin's LHP Nick Allgeyer (3-2, 1.38). First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.