The Palm Beach Cardinals avoided a sweep at the hands of the Fort Myers Miracle by beating the Miracle 8-5 Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium.
It was the final game of the Florida State League first half. The Miracle finished the first half as champions of the South Division with a 45-22 record. Palm Beach finished 17.5 games behind the Miracle with a 29-39 record.
In the first half finale, the Cardinals jumped on the Miracle early, scoring four runs off of starter Jason Wheeler in the first inning. Alex Mejia and Stephen Piscotty started the scoring when both came home on a wild throw by Candido Pimentel that sailed into the Palm Beach dugout on a double play attempt that could have ended the inning.
One batter later, Nick Longmire belted a two-run homer to make it 4-0.
The Miracle responded in the bottom of the first with a two-run single by Kennys Vargas.
David Popkins homered to give the Cardinals a 5-2 lead in the third, and Palm Beach started to pull away in the fifth. The Cardinals loaded the bases against Wheeler with one out to chase him from the game. Nelvin Fuentes came in and threw a wild pitch that scored a run. Longmire drew a walk to force home a run and Casey Rasmus grounded into a fielders choice that scored another run to make it 8-2.
Fort Myers fought back with three runs in the sixth. Aiden Lucas, making his first appearance of the season off the disabled list, gave up a single to Stephen Wickens, a double to Vargas and walked Matt Koch to load the bases. Jhon Goncalves then grounded back to Lucas who threw home for a force out.
Mike Kvasnicka came up and drew a four-pitch walk to bring in a run. With the bases reloaded, Andy Leer grounded back to Lucas who again came home with a throw, but it was wild and Koch scored easily. Lucas had another chance to field a ball hit back to him by Jonathan Murphy, but again he threw wildly home and pulled Rasmus off of home to allowing Goncalves to score and make it 8-5.
Lucas was pulled from the game and Dean Kiekhefer was able to quell the Miracle rally by getting Pimentel to pop out and Aderling Mejia to ground out to end the threat.
Kiekhefer ended up retiring all eight batters he faced. Ronnie Shaban pitched a clean ninth to end the game.
Cardinals starter Jay Voss tossed five innings of two-run ball to earn his first win of the season.
Wheeler took the loss and fell to 6-2. He allowed seven hits and eight runs, six earned, in 4 1/3 innings.
Jose Gonzalez pitched two scoreless innings of relief, striking out four batters.
The Miracle begin the second half of the season Thursday against the Jupiter Hammerheads at Hammond Stadium. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.