Keoni Cavaco’s Grand Slam Flips Series Upside Down – Mussels Force Decisive Game Three with Dramatic 7-5 Win
September 15, 2022
FORT MYERS, Fla (September 15, 2022) – Keoni Cavaco’s dramatic eighth inning grand slam flipped the FSL West Division Championship upside down Thursday, turning a two-run deficit into a 7-5 Mighty Mussels victory at Hammond Stadium.
It gave the Mussels their first lead of the series, keeping their season alive
FORT MYERS, Fla (September 15, 2022) –Keoni Cavaco’s dramatic eighth inning grand slam flipped the FSL West Division Championship upside down Thursday, turning a two-run deficit into a 7-5 Mighty Mussels victory at Hammond Stadium.
It gave the Mussels their first lead of the series, keeping their season alive and forcing a winner-take-all Game 3 against the Blue Jays in Fort Myers Friday night.
“You know, we kept playing, kept playing, kept playing,” Mussels manager Brian Meyer said. “This has been a resilient group from day one and they got rewarded for it tonight.”
The Mussels entered the bottom of the eighth trailing 5-2. Ben Ross walked to lead off the inning before Noah Miller singled to put two on with no one out. After a flyout advanced Ross to third and a strikeout, Kala’i Rosario rocketed a grounder right at Blue Jays second baseman Estiven Machado. The ball abruptly changed direction, kicking up on Machado and into center field to cut the lead to 5-3.
“Rosie hits the ball hard and that was a screamer right at him,” Meyer said. “I don’t know what it hit - if it was a lip, a rock. Whatever it is, it came up on him late and it kind of swung the momentum a little bit.”
After Dunedin brought in Ian Churchill (1-0), *Misael Urbina *walked after an eight pitch at-bat to load the bases.
“Once they had a mound visit, I just looked over to the dugout and I smiled,” Cavaco said. “I was just ready to have some fun.”
On the very next pitch, Cavaco obliterated a series-changing grand slam over the left field berm to give the Mussels a 7-5 lead.
“I knew that he didn’t have a feel for his fastball after the walk to Urbina,” said Cavaco. “I was getting changeups all day, so I was going in there hunting that changeup. He threw a changeup middle-middle and I went for it.”
Cavaco, the longest tenured Mighty Mussel, finished the regular season strong – connecting on six extra-base hits over his final eight games. Since the start of 2021, he’s played in a team-high 159 games for Fort Myers.
“Keoni has been here for two years and he has gone through a lot of ups and downs throughout his professional career,” Meyer said. “Over the course of the past two three weeks he has really made a lot of strides in his pitch selection, his contact ability. To see him rewarded for all that, I am really, really happy for him.”
Up until that inning, Blue Jays’ right-hander Geison Urbaez was the story for Dunedin. Urbaez entered the game in the bottom of the third to replace starter Edisson Gonzalez. Urbaez tossed five innings of shutout baseball, allowing just four hits while holding down a multi-run lead for the Blue Jays.
Mussels left-hander Develson Aria spun a hitless top of the ninth, earning the save in dominant fashion.
“He just joined us last week and had two outings for us but threw the ball well in those situations,” said Meyer. “We had a plan going into today with how we were going to use our pitching. The plan kind of got thrown off but Aria stepped up. With the crowd going - he is a high energy kid, I think he thrived off of it.”
After surrendering a three-spot in the top of the first, Mussels pitchers Marco Raya and Kyle Jones did a good job keeping Fort Myers close, allowing just one unearned run from the second through the eighth.
“It was electric seeing my teammates jumping and knowing that we lived to see another day,” Cavaco said. “The crowd was really into it even when we were down. Thanks to them for sticking with us throughout the whole game and getting lit with us.”
The Mussels will look to advance to the Florida State League Championship series on Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets for Game 3 will go on sale at the Hammond Stadium box office at 9 a.m. and tickets will be made available on the website shortly thereafter.
Jordan Carr will get the start for Fort Myers. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.