Max Kepler's grand slam in the sixth inning sparked a six-run rally for the Fort Myers Miracle, overcoming a five-run deficit and defeating the Palm Beach Cardinals 10-7 Sunday afternoon at Hammond Stadium.
The Cardinals led 7-2 entering the sixth and Palm Beach manager Dann Bilardello called on left-hander Iden Nazario after starter Kyle Helisek had hurled five innings. Nazario struggled to find the strike zone and walked the first two hitters of the inning, Adam Brett Walker and Mike Gonzales. Niko Goodrum then laced a single into right to load the bases for Kepler.
On a 1-1 pitch, Kepler launched a blast deep into the seats in right center field a grand slam, his first home run in the Florida State League.
Bilardello went to the bullpen again and brought in right-hander Aiden Lucas. Tyler Grimes gained on the momentum from Kepler's slam and greeted Lucas with a double down the left field line. Lucas then walked Levi Michael. With two on and nobody out, Travis Harrison ripped a first pitch fastball past a diving Breyvic Valera at third base to bring in Grimes and tie the game 7-7.
With runners at second and third, Jorge Polanco lifted a fly ball to left field and Michael tagged up to score the go-ahead run and complete the comeback.
The Miracle added two insurance runs in the eighth inning including another RBI double by Harrison. Finishing 3-for-5, Harrison is now 18-for-48 (.375) over his last 12 games and his overall average stands at .308.
Michael reached base all five times to the plate, going 1-for-3 with three walks and three runs scored. Polanco finished the afternoon 2-for-4 with two RBI and raised his average to .361.
Madison Boer entered in the eighth inning and pitched a pair of scoreless frames to record his third save of the season.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings against Miracle starter Alex Wimmers. In the first, Jacob Wilson got the Cardinals on the board with a one-out, two-run double. Two hitters later, Alex Mejia singled with two down to knock in another run and give Palm Beach a 3-0 lead.
In the second, Wimmers surrendered a long solo homer to David Washington and a two-out RBI base hit to Valera.
Down 5-0, the Miracle answered with a pair of runs in the third. Polanco singled into left field to drive in a run and Walker grounded out to second with a runner on third to plate another.
The Cardinals rebuilt a five-run lead with a run in each of the fourth and fifth off Wimmers. In the fourth, a passed ball by Grimes allowed Casey Rasmus to score and a solo homer from Nick Martini in the fifth pushed the Palm Beach lead up to 7-2.
Wimmers went five innings and allowed seven runs, four earned, on seven hits. Receiving a no decision, Wimmers struck out two and walked three.
Mason Melotakis entered in the sixth and inherited a five-run deficit. When Melotakis (1-1) returned to the hill in the seventh, the Miracle had completed the five-run rally. Over two innings, Melotakis worked around two hits and struck out one to record his first victory of the season.
The Miracle (13-10) continue an eight-game homestand with the first place Bradenton Marauders (14-9) Monday at 7:05 p.m.