Roberts delivers Miracle in opener

Fort Myers 'second-half MVP' cranks go-ahead double to beat Jays

(Jerry Hale/

September 5, 2006 7:25 PM ET

Brandon Roberts' RBI double in the eighth inning lifted Fort Myers over visiting Dunedin, 6-5, on Tuesday in the opener of their best-of-3 Florida State League playoff series.

J.R. Taylor and Jeremy King drew back-to-back walks to start the eighth before Roberts slammed an offering from reliever Daryl Harang off the right-field wall to plate the go-ahead run.

"I wasn't sure if it was going to go out or not, but it definitely was a hard line drive," said Roberts, who came to Fort Myers from Sarasota in a mid-June trade between Minnesota and Cincinnati. "I was just up there looking for something to drive, and I got something."

Referred to by manager Kevin Boles as the Miracle's MVP during the second half, the 21-year-old center fielder went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. He was hit by a pitch in the second and scored on Steven Tolleson's single. Roberts also came home on Trevor Plouffe's double in the fifth, giving Fort Myers a 3-2 lead.

After batting .267 in 60 games with the Reds, Roberts, a seventh-round pick by Cincinnati in 2005, hit .316 in the second half with a .370 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot.

"I've felt really relaxed and comfortable on this team," Roberts said. "There are some good hitters on this team, so that allows me to just worry about getting on base instead of trying to do too much with the pitch and going outside myself."

Plouffe went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Tolleson added three hits for the Miracle, who posted their second postseason victory since 1995, when they won the league championship (the other was against Dunedin in 2003, losing the Western Division series 2-1).

Fort Myers closer David Powers (1-0) picked up the win by tossing 2 1/3 perfect innings. He struck out Ron Davenport to end the game.

"I guess you could say this game was kind of like what the second half has been like for us," Roberts said. "We were going back-and-forth with Tampa all season long and we pulled it out on the last day, and it was the same thing tonight with Dunedin. We kept trading shots until one of us was able to hold on."

Eric Nielsen went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Blue Jays. Cory Patton, who drove in 10 runs against the Miracle on June 25, also went 2-for-4, including an RBI triple in the sixth that tied the game, 3-3.

Reliever Jeremy King (0-1) took the loss after yielding a run on one hit and three walks over 1 2/3 frames.

The series shifts to Dunedin for Game 2 on Wednesday.

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

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