Jupiter tops Mother Nature, St. Lucie

Ozuna, Yelich lead Hammerheads to win in FSL semis opener

By Erin Brown / Special to MLB.com | September 4, 2012 10:22 PM ET

JUPITER, Fla. -- After Mother Nature brought her worst, Marcell Ozuna delivered his best.

Ozuna singled in the go-ahead run, sparking an eighth-inning rally that gave Class A Advanced Jupiter a 3-1 victory over St. Lucie in Game 1 of the Florida State League semifinals, a contest delayed nearly three hours by rain.

"We played hard because we needed that win," said Ozuna, the Marlins' No. 6 prospect.

Christian Yelich went 3-for-4 and scored twice for the Hammerheads, while relievers Rett Varner, Araudel Lazo and Michael Brady held the Mets hitless after play resumed in the sixth following a rain delay of two hours and 58 minutes.

A downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning halted play just before 8 p.m. ET. Flooding in the field and dugouts prompted both benches to flee for the clubhouses beyond the outfield bleachers at Roger Dean Stadium.

By the time water drained, frogs had taken up residence in the outfield.

"I haven't seen that actually," St. Lucie manager Ryan Ellis said. "I haven't."

Given the option of resuming the game in Jupiter on Wednesday before heading to St. Lucie for Game 2 or finishing both contests at the Mets' ballpark, Ellis and Hammerheads counterpart Andy Haines agreed to hold out for better weather and complete the game.

The grounds crew worked for over an hour in still-inclement conditions to prepare the field for play.

"It's just an odd scenario and there are so many different scenarios that can take place if we don't get this game in," said Haines. "Ryan was great about it, as well as their staff. I think both of us said the most fair thing for both teams is to wait. Our grounds crew did an unbelievable job."

The skies cleared by 10:30 p.m., when the teams returned to the field to warm up again.

"They were right on with the weather [forecast]," Ellis said. "We waited it out and were able to finish the last four innings."

Yelich put the Hammerheads on the board in the first. The Marlins' No. 2 prospect led off with a single up the middle, just out of the reach of second baseman T.J. Rivera. He stole second, took third on Ozuna's deep fly ball and scored on Ryan Fisher's sacrifice fly to right.

"We were just trying to get out to a quick start," Yelich said. "It was pretty much textbook baseball right there. We came out of the gate and started the game well."

St. Lucie tied it two innings later. Cesar Puello, the Mets' No. 5 prospect, opened the third with a blast to the right-center field gap for a standup triple and scored one batter later on Danny Muno's single.

Jupiter starter Jose Fernandez exited after five innings, having given up one run on three hits. The right-hander, who averaged six strikeouts in his last six starts, fanned one in the series opener. Miami's third-ranked prospect walked just one batter and showed off a quick glove on consecutive comebackers to end his evening.

The Hammerheads are 11-1 in Fernandez starts.

Mets starter Logan Verrett, a 2011 third-round Draft pick, yielded a run on three hits over five innings. He struck out three and did not walk a batter.

"Logan pitched against these guys twice in the last two weeks," Ellis said. "He's done very well for us since he's been brought up from [Class A] Savannah. He did a great job tonight."

"I think [the delay] might have helped us out, because we weren't hitting their starter very well," Yelich added. "It gave us a fresh start. We stayed focused during the rain delay and got out there and got after it."

In other FSL playoff action:
Lakeland 1, Dunedin 0

Tyler Collins provided the game's lone run and four Flying Tigers combined on the shutout in Lakeland's Game 1 win.

Collins homered in the opening inning and reliever Daniel Bennett picked up the win, fanning two in the seventh. Dunedin totaled seven hits, but went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Box score

Erin Brown is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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