Yelich, Jupiter on brink of FSL crown

Miami's No. 1 prospect delivers go-ahead run in Game 3 win

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | September 9, 2012 5:09 PM

The Jupiter Hammerheads are one win away from clinching a Florida State League championship.

But top Marlins prospect Christian Yelich isn't taking anything for granted. He knows first-hand how quickly a series can get turned on its head.

The first-rounder snapped a scoreless tie with a seventh-inning RBI single Sunday as the Class A Advanced Hammerheads edged the Flying Tigers, 2-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Finals.

That puts Jupiter -- in the playoffs for the first time since 2003 -- one victory away from its first title. The club is 0-for-4 in their previous trips to the FSL Championship Series.

Yelich --'s No. 18 prospect -- knows better than to get carried away on any front.

He was part of the 2011 Greensboro Grasshoppers team who lost two of the first three games to the Savannah Sand Gnats in the best-of-5 South Atlantic League Finals, only to win Games 4 and 5 on the road to claim the crown.

"Obviously we know we're close, but we were in this situation last year," said Yelich, selected by the Marlins 23rd overall in the 2010 Draft. "We were down two games to one, but we came back to win. We know it's not over and that we still have to take care of business.

"It's not over. We've been here before. We have to keep battling because they will not give up."

Yelich came through with the biggest blow of Game 3 on Sunday, lining Ryan Woolley's 3-2 fastball back up the middle to chase home Dallas Poulk from second base.

Jacob Realmuto then homered to left field leading off the ninth to double the Hammerheads' advantage and complete the scoring.

"It was a really long at-bat," the center fielder said of his RBI single. "[Woolley] threw me some good pitches that I had to foul off. It got to 3-2 and he made a little bit of a mistake. I was just trying to battle and put something in play and make something happen.

"It was a close game the whole time. We were fighting for a run, both teams were."

Yelich's offense, combined with stingy pitching, proved to be enough to seal the victory.

Starter Jose Fernandez scattered two hits while walking a pair and striking out four batters over five innings, and Michael Ojala (1-0) fanned a pair over a hitless frame of relief. Raudel Lazo allowed one hit and one walk over two innings, and Michael Brady worked a perfect ninth to earn his third save of the postseason.

"Jose was awesome," 20-year-old California native Yelich said. "The bullpen was asked to go 15 innings [on Saturday] so for him to give us that today was huge for us.

"We have to keep doing the same thing and keep playing hard. If we execute, we're confident we will come out on top. It's awesome because it's a core group of the same guys from last year."

Lakeland's Luis Angel Sanz allowed two hits over six innings, but he did not factor in the decision. Designated hitter Dean Green was 2-for-3 with a double in the loss.

The Flying Tigers will host Game 4 on Monday and, if necessary, Game 5 on Tuesday.

Ashley Marshall 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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