Gamel, Manatees rally, stay alive

Ninth-inning comeback forces Game 3 in FSL playoff series

(Jerry Hale/

September 5, 2007 9:02 PM

In a game in which the tying run scored on a controversial hit batter call in the ninth inning, Mat Gamel delivered an even bigger hit for the Manatees.

Gamel singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Brevard County edged St. Lucie, 7-6, to even their Florida State League first-round playoff series at 1-1 on Wednesday.

With the Manatees trailing, 6-5, Yohannis Perez ripped a leadoff single and advanced on Ned Yost's bunt single before both runners moved up on pitcher Joe Hietpas' throwing error. One out later, Darren Ford was intentionally walked to load the bases. The game's most controversial play followed.

Lorenzo Cain was hit by a pitch, forcing in Perez with the tying run. The Mets argued that Cain was not hit but the ruling stood.

"The ball just nicked him and I guess their dugout didn't think so, and I can understand because you don't really want to see the game tied that way," Gamel said. "I was in the on-deck circle, but I didn't really see the play. I wasn't tuned in, I was watching the pitcher and focusing on my at-bat."

The 22-year-old third baseman followed with his biggest hit of the season as he laced a single to center field off reliever Jose De La Torre to score pinch-runner Freddy Parejo and keep the series going.

"I had faced [De La Torre] before and knew what he threw, so I felt comfortable," Gamel explained. "I wasn't trying to do too much, just trying to hit a fly ball. I worked the count and got a good pitch, a fastball on the outside part of the plate, and hit it better than I thought."

Gamel, who was held hitless with three strikeouts on Tuesday, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and said his mind-set completely changed in that final at-bat with the score tied.

"It definitely eased the nerves and it was helpful knowing you don't have to swing for two runs in that spot. I adjusted my approach and was just trying to hit what he gave me," he said.

Trailing, 6-1, Brevard County staged a four-run rally in the sixth, highlighted by Michael Bell's RBI double and Chris Errecart's three-run homer.

Gamel said the team could feel the momentum beginning to shift.

"Everyone was still fired up, and while it crossed the back of our minds that it mind be the end of the season, we tried to stay positive and pick one another up," he said. "Chris' homer really changed the game and gave the team a huge lift."

The 2005 fourth-round pick feels this win is something that could carry over to Thursday's game.

"I think we definitely have the momentum going into tomorrow's game and we just have to take it out there and play a solid game tomorrow," Gamel said.

Brevard County reliever Kevin Roberts (1-0) yielded one hit and two walks, striking out five over 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Dan Murphy was 2-for-2 with three walks, two RBIs and two runs scored for the Mets. Nick Evans collected three hits, an RBI and a run scored and is 5-for-9 in the series.

Hietpas (0-1) was charged with two runs on two hits and one walk in 1 1/3 innings.

The decisive third game is Thursday at 7 p.m. ET in Brevard County.

Chip Haunss is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More