Bradenton brings home first FSL title

Righties Brubaker, Anderson hold Tampa at bay in Game 4 of Finals

The Marauders' top offense overwhelmed the league's best pitching staff. (Marty Morrow/Bradenton Marauders)

By Kirsten Karbach / Special to MiLB.com | September 12, 2016 10:43 PM ET

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Tanner Anderson peered in and bent at the waist, his right arm hanging loose at his side. The 23-year-old came set at the belt and fired home a first-pitch strike.

One out away from a Florida State League title, the right-hander wasted no time.

Anderson quickly dealt a two-seam fastball to Trey Amburgey and induced a two-hopper toward the hole at shortstop, forcing out Connor Spencer at second to set off the celebration as the Bradenton Marauders cliched their first Florida State League championship.

The Pirates' Class A Advanced affiliate knocked off the Tampa Yankees, 4-1, at McKechnie Field on Monday to take Game 4 of the best-of-5 series as the league's top offense won out over the circuit's best pitching staff to earn the crown.

"We talked about before the playoffs even started that we had to play five perfect games, and that's exactly what they did," Marauders manager Michael Ryan said. "There wasn't any panic with any of the guys. They all played loose, trusted their abilities, trusted their training."

After locking down the win in Bradenton's 4-1 series-clinching victory over St. Lucie in the South Division title game, Jonathan Brubaker came through again. The 22-year-old held the Yankees at bay through six strong innings, permitting one run on six hits while racking up five strikeouts.

"I think he attacked; he wanted to be the guy on the mound," Ryan said. "He was getting his off-speed over any time he wanted. That's a really good team over there that he attacked and kept it off balance."

"It was a mix of getting ahead with the fastball and also pitching backwards," Brubaker added.

A year after holding the Staten Island Yankees to a run on two hits in six innings in the New York-Penn League title game while with Class A Short Season West Virginia, the righty matched that effort to seal another championship.

"I live for it, I love these types of situations," Brubaker said.

Taylor Gushue homered and drove in two runs for the Marauders, including a sacrifice fly that broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning. Jordan Luplow singled up the middle to lead off the frame and scored the go-ahead run for Bradenton.

Luplow provided a lot of offense in the playoffs -- knocking in seven runs, scoring seven more and homering three times while batting .353 in five games. He collected at least one hit in every postseason contest in which he played.

The left fielder also came up clutch defensively for Bradenton in the second inning, playing a carom off the side wall in left. He fired a strike to second to throw out Spencer, who was trying to stretch a single into a double.

Kevin Cornelius followed that play with a solo home run for Tampa to account for the Yankees' lone run off Brubaker.

Cornelius came to the plate again in a key spot in the bottom of the sixth after Tampa placed runners at the corners with two down with the score 3-1.

After pumping in a first-pitch strike, Brubaker ran two-straight sliders off the outer part of the plate, inducing a pair of swinging strikes to cut down Cornelius.

Anderson took over from there, striking out three of the first seven men he faced. Bradenton tacked on an unearned run in the eighth before the righty finished off the three-inning save.

"I'll never forget that group, I'll tell you that right now," Ryan said. "Just an amazing season."

Kirsten Karbach is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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