The Dunedin Blue Jays moved back above .500 in the season's second half and pulled within 2.0 games of first place in a tightly packed Florida State League North Division with Sunday evening's 4-3 win over the Bradenton Marauders. LF Connor Panas powered the offense, going 3-4 with a triple, double, single and two RBIs and the Dunedin bullpen escaped jams in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve the victory.
Dunedin took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning on a trio of extra base hits. 1B Juan Kelly led off the inning with a triple. C Michael De La Cruz followed with a double to knock in the game's first run. One out later, RF Eduard Pinto traded places with De La Cruz with a double of his own.
In the fourth inning, the Jays struck again. With Kelly on third, Panas laced a triple into the right field corner to extend Dunedin's lead to 3-0.
Bradenton did not go down without a fight, scoring in the fifth on a solo home run by Ke'Bryan Hayes, in the sixth on a solo homer by Ty Moore, and in the seventh on an RBI single by Will Craig to tie the game. All three runs were charged to RHP Conor Fisk throwing in long relief following a short rehab start by RHP Taylor Cole. Fisk went 5.0 innings in relief, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out four.
RHP Zach Jackson worked into and out of a jam in the top of the eighth in relief of Fisk, loading the bases with one out. A pop out and strikeout allowed him to strand all three runners.
DH Max Pentecost singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth and Michael De La Cruz followed him with a single of his own with one out. Connor Panas plated Pentecost with a single up the middle, pushing across the go-ahead run with his third hit of the day.
Ke'Bryan Hayes hit a leadoff double in the top of the ninth off Dunedin reliever LHP Kirby Snead, but Snead settled down and retired the next three batters in order to preserve the 4-3 victory for the Blue Jays.
The Jays will aim for the series sweep tomorrow evening in the final game of their three game set with Bradenton at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin. LHP Tayler Saucedo will take the ball for the Jays with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30 PM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.