DUNEDIN- Kennys Vargas delivered a two-run double in the top of the ninth inning to help the Fort Myers Miracle post a 6-4 series-opening victory over the Dunedin Blue Jays Wednesday night.
The Miracle entered the bottom of the eighth inning with a 3-0 lead. Miracle reliever Nelvin Fuentes gave up a grand slam to Michael Crouse and put Fort Myers in danger of losing a seventh consecutive game.
In the ninth, with one out, Matt Koch got the rally started with his second base hit of the evening. Koch was then replaced by Jhon Goncalves on the bases. Dunedin closer Blake McFarland then walked Mike Kvasnicka and a slumping Vargas stepped to the plate.
Just 1-for-18 in his last five game, including an 0-2 night with two strikeouts, Vargas laced an 0-1 pitch into the gap in right center field to score Goncalves and Kvasnicka. Vargas' league-leading RBI total is now at 71.
With a 6-4 lead, manager Doug Mientkiewicz turned to closer Zack Jones. Nailing down his tenth save, Jones retired three of the four hitters faced and stopped Fort Myers six-game losing streak.
The Miracle took an early 2-0 lead on one swing from new first baseman D.J. Hicks. In his Florida State League debut, Hicks launched a 1-0 pitch from Dunedin reliever John Anderson well beyond the fence in right field. The Miracle added a run in the top of the eighth to build a 3-0 lead when a Byron Buxton fly ball was lost in the lights in left center by Crouse. Buxton, hustling on the play, made it to third base. Aderling Mejia then singled in Buxton with his second hit of the night.
Tyler Duffey started for the Miracle and received a no decision despite allowing just one hit in seven shutout innings. Duffey struck out seven and walked four. Fuentes (2-1) got the win. McFarland (0-4) was dealt the loss.
The Miracle (56-35, 11-13) return to Dunedin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for a second matchup with the Blue Jays (45-44, 8-15).