Well, I started to write this at about 1:30 A.M. Eastern Time. I just got back home from the Hammerheads game a little over an hour ago at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. I’ve got to read a book for English, study for a chemistry test, do math homework and get ready for a full slate of NFL games on Sunday. The last thing I needed was an extra inning baseball game. But I went, and I’m glad I did. I’m also glad I stayed for the Hammerheads final home game of 2012, an amazing game but a bittersweet 15 inning loss to the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
The Florida State League championship series is now knotted at 1 game each, in the best of 5 series. Ramon Del Orbe was making his Hammerheads debut. He was promoted from rookie league Jamestown before the series, and pitched OK, giving up 3 runs and 6 hits in 3 innings. Not terrible for his 1st start. Chris Squires pitched 1 inning and surrendered 3 runs.
In the 1st, the Tigers got on the board first taking a 1-0 lead. Jupiter got that run back in the bottom of the second, with JT Realmuto hitting an RBI double that scored Mark Canha. The teams exchanged 2 run innings in the 3rd, after a 2 RBI triple by Ryan Fisher tied the game at 3. Lakeland scored 1 in the 4th and 3 in the 5th. All of them given up by Squires, but 1 of them was charged to Del Orbe. Squires failed to record an out in the 5th inning an Jupiter faced a 7-3 deficit.
But in the bottom of the 5th, Jupiter battled back with a hit from Terrence Dayleg and walks to Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. An RBI single by Canha made the score 7-4. A sac fly by Realmuto drove in Yelich and a Taylor Krick RBI-single then brought the Hammerheads to within one run.
Then the bullpen just went absolutely beast-mode for Jupiter. Dane Stone shut down Lakeland for 2.1 innings. Raudel Lazo pitched 1.2 scoreless innings. Jordan Conley retired 9 of the 10 batters he faced for 3 nearly perfect shutout innings. Rett Varner followed with 3 shutout innings of his own allowing just 2 baserunners.
On the defensive side, Noah Perio played great at 2nd base for Jupiter making 2 diving plays, including an amazing play going up the middle, diving and throwin from his knees.
Also, we might want to keep an eye on Dixon Machado of the Tigers who really caught my eye. He robbed at least 3 hits, and without him the Hammerheads probably would have won in 9 innings. Machado obviously ate his Wheaties before the game, because he showed off his ups, making 2 leaping line-drive snags, one of them nearly came out of his glove before he caught it with his bare hand, maybe a foot above the ground. He also speared a hard one-hopper on another great play.
In the bottom of the 9th, Jupiter managed to tie it. Christian Yelich walked and Marcell Ozuna nearly ended it right then, with a warning track fly ball to straight away center field, where the outfielder caught it right in front of the 400 foot sign. Ryan Fisher singled, putting Yelich on 2nd. With 2 out, JT Realmuto hit a ball up the middle and Tigers SS Dixon Machado could not throw out Realmuto at 1st. Yelich meanwhile, never stopped running and with the 1st baseman in a full out stretch, he rounded 3rd base hard and scored the tying run from 2nd on an infield hit.
The 2 teams were held scoreless until the 15th inning. By that time, a kid near the bullpen was yelling “It’s past my bedtime already!” and closer Michael Brady grew restless, pacing near the bullpen.
In the 15th inning, Hernan Perez connected on a two-out RBI-triple to put the Lakeland on top 8-7 for what was the final score. The loss was charged to Tyler Higgins.
It was great to see Jupiter battle back and tie the game 3 times, but i guess they weren’t ment to win this one. No team likes losing the marathons like this because it takes alot out of you and you don’t even come out with a win. Nonetheless, at the end of the game, the players gave the fans high-fives and said their goodbyes after the final home game, and got ready to hop on the bus to Lakeland for a 4 hour drive. The game started at 6:45 and ended at 11:30 for a total time of 4 hours and 45 minutes.
Now the players have to play the rest of the series in Lakeland, where they probably just arrived at about 2 a.m. and have to get ready for tonight’s game, which ace Jose Fernandez is starting. So hopefully they should win. I’m going to miss those scrappy Jupiter guys. They knew how to win and had a great season no matter what.
Good luck to them in the rest of the series.
Anthony Codella is a writer for Marlins Nation. Follow them on Twitter @ACodella130 and @Marlins_Nation