Joe helps Marauders sweep into FSL Finals

Pirates infielder homers on three-hit night, scores three in Game 2

Bradenton celebrates after sweeping St. Lucie to advance to the Florida State League Finals. (Marty Morrow)

By Chris Tripodi / | September 7, 2016 11:09 PM

After a rough opening in Tuesday's Florida State League playoff opener, Connor Joe faced a familiar foe Wednesday, and he made sure to take advantage.

The Pittsburgh infield prospect went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and three runs scored against former college teammate P.J. Conlon en route to Class A Advanced Bradenton's 4-1 win over St. Lucie. The Marauders swept the best-of-3 semifinal to reach the Championship Series.

"I went to college with P.J. I've seen him and I've caught him," said Joe, who struck out four times and left eight men on in Game 1. "I had a tough night [Tuesday], just really passive early in the count on fastballs. [I was] looking for a fastball early in the count that I was able to do something with [on the solo shot]. I put a good swing on it and hit it to the big part of the field."

Joe took the second pitch in the bottom of the second inning over the fence in right-center field to start the scoring. He doubled to left and scored on Michael Suchy's single in the third. In the eighth, he singled to the left side ahead of Wyatt Mathisen's knock for the Marauders' final run. But the quick bounceback was not the result of any sweeping changes at the dish.

"We play 140 games; I've done the same thing every day for 140 days," Joe said. "I can't tell you how many bad days I've had throughout the season. You just come in like it's a new day -- I did the same routine I've always done, and game time, you let everything out."

Bradenton manager Michael Ryan plugged Joe in as designated hitter instead of his customary third-base spot. The move worked out for a team whose mantra heading into Wednesday's game was "Finish," according to Joe.

"I was DH, so I had that break between innings and focused on staying in tune to the game and doing anything I could to help us win that series," he said. "Really just trying to do anything to help the team pick up a win. ... it's a great feeling."

Right-hander Jonathan Brubaker (1-0) allowed six hits and a walk over six scoreless innings to pick up the win. Conlon (0-1) allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks in four innings.

"Baseball is all momentum, and right now, we have a lot of momentum," Joe said. "We don't know who we're going to play yet, but we're very confident and when we're confident, we're a championship-caliber team."

In other FSL playoff action:

Dunedin 8, Tampa 4 (15 innings)

The Blue Jays and Yankees battled into extra innings for the second straight night, with Dunedin knotting the semifinal at a game apiece. Jonathan Davis went 5-for-7 and Toronto's No. 3 prospect Anthony Alford amassed two doubles and three runs scored from the leadoff spot. John La Prise added three hits and three RBIs, including an RBI single in the 15th -- Dunedin's only run of the frame that didn't come on a walk, error or wild pitch. Box score

Chris Tripodi is an editor for Follow him on Twitter @christripodi. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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