The Florida Fire Frogs offense exploded late, and did enough to fend off the Clearwater Threshers’ attack in a 12-10 victory at Spectrum Field on Friday night. The game saw both teams combine to use nine relievers, with eight men coming in for the final three frames.
Florida (22-29) trailed 4-0 heading into the seventh before breaking through with their first six-run frame of the contest. The inning saw the runs come across on three hits, an error, five walks and two hit batters.
Kurt Hoekstra (2×4, 2 R, BB) started the inning against Mauricio Llovera with an infield single to the left side, and advanced to second on a throwing error by J.P. Crawford at shortstop. Garrison Schwartz (0x2, R, RBI, 3 BB) extended his on-base streak to 13 games by drawing his first free pass of the night, in front of Braxton Davidson’s (0x5) fly out to right field, moving Hoekstra up to third.
Ray-Patrick Didder (1×3, 2 R, 2 RBI) wore an 0-2 pitch to load the bags for Marcus Mooney (0x3, 2 R, RBI), who took a 1-2 pitch off the leg from Garret Cleavinger to force home the first run. Shean Michel (1×3, R, RBI, 2 BB) drew a free pass to bring the Fire Frogs within two, and Cristian Pache (4×6, 2 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI) knotted the game at four with a two-run double to right. Alejandro Salazar (1×6, R, 2B, RBI) gave the road team the lead with a groundout to second, plating Michel for the 5-4 advantage.
Shawn Williams summoned Alberto Tirado to attempt to stop the bleeding, but the right-hander walked the next three batters to force home an insurance run.
Devan Watts took over on the mound for the Fire Frogs to start the bottom of the seventh, but allowed five runs and recorded just one before being lifted for Josh Graham (1-0). The product of Oregon retired Henri Lartigue on a bases-loaded grounder to second for the second out of the inning, pushing Florida into its second four-run deficit of the night, and retired Jose Pujols on a flyout to center to end the frame.
The Atlanta Braves’ affiliate once again tallied six runs to respond to the six-spot put up by Clearwater (21-30) to take another two-run advantage in the eighth.
Didder and Mooney started the inning by being hit by pitches, prompting Williams to make another pitching change and bring in Aaron Brown (1-3). The converted outfielder set down Michel with a fly ball to right, by Pache sent a 1-1 offering over the wall for the 19-year-old’s second home run over the last three games.
Salazar followed with a hustle double to right, and came home to score on Brett Cumberland’s (1×5, R, RBI, BB) bloop single down the line in left to tie the game at 10 apiece. Hoekstra reached on his second infield single of the night, and a wild pitch to Schwartz loaded the bases.
Davidson went down on strikes for the second out, but Didder’s two-out flare to center pushed across two runs to give the Fire Frogs the 12-10 edge.
Thomas Burrows (SV, 1) earned his first save as a Fire Frog with a perfect ninth to secure the win.
Florida tied a team record with 11 walks handed out on the mound, but tied a season-high with 12 strikeouts from the pitching staff.
Friday also featured the conclusion of May 19’s suspended game at Osceola County Stadium. The Fire Frogs dropped the matchup, 2-0, due to a two-run shot off the bat of Austin Listi in the top of the eight inning against Connor Johnstone (1-2).
Florida will look to jump out to a two-game advantage in game two of the four-game series at Spectrum Field on Saturday night. RHP Ian Anderson (0-2, 3.64) takes the mound for the Fire Frogs against the Threshers’ LHP Nick Fanti 90-2, 9.64). First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m., with coverage beginning at 6:00 p.m. with the Florida Fire Frogs Pregame Show on the Florida Fire Frogs Broadcasting Network.