JUPITER, Fla. (April 3, 2014) - The Fort Myers Miracle defeated the Jupiter Hammerheads, 5-1, at Roger Dean Stadium to open the 2014 season on Thursday evening.
After examining Williams elbow, first year Jupiter Manager Brian Schneider removed the Hammerheads' starter. Chipper Smith came on and retired Adam Brett Walker, but gave up a sacrifice fly to Max Kepler. On the first pitch, Kepler lifted a fly ball to center field and scored Polanco from third to push the Miracle lead to 2-0.
Smith would only give up two more hits through the next four innings. Jupiter cut the Miracle lead in half in the bottom of the first. Miracle starter Jason Wheeler gave up a back-to-back hits to Cameron Flynn and Terrence Dayleg to start the first. Austin Barnes then hit a sharp grounder to third base. Niko Goodrum made a diving stab and threw to first to retire Barnes, but Flynn scored to make it a 2-1 game.
The Miracle pitching staff would not give up a run for the remainder of the game. Wheeler (1-0) went 5.2 innings, scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Steven Gruver entered in the sixth and stranded two inherited runners and three more of his own in the seventh.
Tim Shibuya pitched a perfect final two innings with a pair of strikeouts. Shibuya had some cushion thanks to a three-run top of the eighth by the Miracle order.
Polanco led off with a single into left field off Jupiter reliever Reid Redman. After Hicks struck out, Walker laced a base hit. With runners at first and second, Kepler turned on a 2-2 pitch and smoked a ground ball down the first base line and into the right field corner for a two-run triple. Kepler finished 1-for-3 with three RBI.
Mike Gonzales added a third run in the inning with an infield hit and the Miracle cruised to a 5-1 win.