The Palm Beach Cardinals won on a walk-off bases loaded hit by pitch with Thomas Spitz at the plate on Wednesday Evening to top the Fort Myers Miracle by a final of 3-2.
The game started with Connor Jones having some of his best stuff of the year as he did not give up a hit until the fourth inning of the game. Jones tossed six innings of one run (unearned) baseball only giving up two hits on the night. He walked two batters and struck out four.
Palm Beach scored first in the bottom of the second inning. Jose Godoy and Leobaldo Pina opened up the frame with back-to-back singles and advanced on a Blake Drake sacrifice bunt. Shane Billings hit a ground ball to third that allowed Godoy to score and gave Palm Beach a 1-0 lead in the game.
They added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth. Jose Martinez hit a double to the left-center gap to drive in Blake Drake to take an early 2-0 lead on the Fort Myers Miracle.
Connor Jones was cruising through five and looked like he was going to get through six without giving up a run. Tanner English reached on a leadoff walk, and Jones then got to quick outs. English stole second base with Chris Paul at the plate. Paul then hit a ground ball to the third baseman, Pina, who misplayed the grounder and allowed it to go by him and give the Miracle their first run of the game and cut the lead to 2-1.
In the seventh inning, the Miracle threatened once again. Zander Wiel singled ending Jones’ night on the mound. Brady Bowen came in and got the first out as Wiel was sacrificed over. Ramon Santos replaced Bowen and walked the first batter Jermaine Palacios. He ended the inning with a double play off the bat of Jaylin Davis to keep the 2- lead.
Derian Gonzalez came in to pitch the eighth as the Cardinals could not do anything in the bottom of the seventh. Gonzales struck out the first batter he faced, but gave up a game-tying home run to pinch-hitter, Nelson Molina. Gonzalez then got out of a one out jam with runners on the corners. He got Brent Rooker to strike out swinging and the ended the inning with Zander Wiel flying out to Drake in center.
Palm Beach could not get anyone on in the bottom of the eighth and the Miracle were held scoreless in the top of the ninth that set up the drama in the bottom of the ninth. With Tom Hackimer working in his third inning, he walked Drake with one out. Shane Billing hit a single through the right side to put Drake at third with one away. The Miracle decided to intentionally walk Martinez to bring up Spitz. The first pitch was outside and almost got away from the catcher. He threw another ball and then Spitz fouled off two pitches to even the count. With a 2-2 count, Hackimer threw a fastball inside that hit Spitz on the elbow and allowed Drake to score the winning run to claim the South Division Championship by a final of 3-2.
With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, the Cardinals are named the Co-Florida State League Champions with the North Division winners as the Championship games were cancelled. This was the first FSL Championship that the Palm Beach Cardinals have won since 2005.