JUPITER, Fla. - Cornelius Randolph's two-run double in the seventh inning broke a one-all tie, and proved the difference as the Threshers closed out a 3-1 victory over the Palm Beach Cardinals in the series opener at Roger Dean Stadium.
Clearwater (59-51, 21-19) benefitted from a strong five innings from McKenzie Mills in his Threshers debut, and three relievers combined to shut down the Cardinals offense the rest of the way.
Mills worked the first five innings, and held Palm Beach (59-47, 19-20) to just one run on five hits. The 21-year-old left-hander was acquired from the Washington Nationals on July 27, in exchange for outfielder Howie Kendrick.
JD Hammer (1-0) earned the win in his second outing for Clearwater, after the righty came over from the Colorado Rockies system in the Pat Neshek trade. Hammer sat 95-96 mph with his fastball, and tossed a perfect sixth inning.
Trevor Bettencourt and Seth McGarry took it the rest of the way, with Bettencourt dealing two scoreless and McGarry finishing off the ninth to earn his 15th save total, and his first for Clearwater.
Palm Beach had grabbed the game's first run in the second, when Luke Dykstra delivered a two-out RBI single off Mills.
Jordan Hicks held the Threshers scoreless through five innings in the start, but Clearwater rallied back when Ross Vance (2-4) took over in relief.
With two down in the frame, Wilson Garcia singled to center, and Jan Hernandez pulled one past short to put two on with two out. Derek Campbell came through with a liner to right, scoring Garcia to tie the game before Hernandez was tagged out at third to end the inning.
In the seventh it was Edgar Cabral and Emmanuel Marrero who strung together a pair of one-out singles, and with two outs in the inning, Randolph delivered a double off the first base bag and into right that scored both Cabral and Marrero to give the Threshers a 3-1 lead.
Bettencourt worked his way around an infield hit and an error to strand a pair in the bottom of the seventh, and tossed a perfect eighth on just six pitches. McGarry induced two quick outs to open the bottom of the ninth before a walk to Andy Young, and struck out Dykstra on three pitches to end the ballgame.
Game two of the series will take place on Friday at 6:30 p.m., when Franklyn Kilome (5-4) takes the hill opposed by Connor Jones (7-4). The game will be broadcast live on threshersbaseball.com starting at 6:15 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.