The Jupiter Hammerheads are just one win away from their first Florida State League Championship.
Jose Fernandez and a trio of Jupiter relievers combined on a shutout of the Lakeland Flying Tigers on Sunday as the Hammerheads claimed the pivotal Game 3 victory, 2-0.
Fernandez was once again dominant on the hill for Jupiter allowing just two hits over five innings with four strikeouts. However, he ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth when he issued back-to-back walks to open the frame. The second free pass was in question as the umpires lost track of the count but after conversing the decision stood. It was no matter for Fernandez, who quickly regained his focus and fanned James Robbins. Fernandez then induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Hernan Perez to strand the runners.
For Lakeland, Luis Angel Sanz was equally as sharp on the mound. He cruised through the Jupiter lineup for six innings and also allowed just two hits. He walked four and struck out three batters.
Fernandez, who has been on a strict inning limit since joining Jupiter, was reluctantly done after five innings. In the sixth, he gave way to the bullpen that was severely depleted after Saturday's 15 inning marathon. Mike Ojala was the first to answer the call with a pair of strikeouts in the frame.
Upon Sanz's exit from the game in the top of the seventh, the Hammerheads were finally able to scratch the plate off reliever Ryan Woolley. Dallas Poulk started the two-out rally with a single into left field. After Terrence Dayleg was hit by a pitch, Christian Yelich stepped to the plate for Jupiter. Yelich coaxed a full count and proceeded to foul off tough pitches from Woolley. The culmination of an 11-pitch at bat was an RBI-single up the middle to drive in Poulk and give the Hammerheads a 1-0 advantage.
With a lead intact, Raudel Lazo took over on the mound for Jupiter and pitched two scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out two. The Hammerheads padded the lead for Lazo's second inning of work when J.T. Realmuto lined a solo homer out to left field in the eighth to put Jupiter up 2-0.
Michael Brady worked a perfect ninth inning for Jupiter to earn his second save of the series and his third of the postseason. Ojala (1-0) picked up the win for the Hammerheads.
With a 2-1 Championship Series lead, Jupiter will have two chances to close out the best-of-five series and claim their first ever Title. Game 4 is Monday night at Joker Merchant Stadium in Lakeland. 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.