VIERA, Fla. - A three-run first inning was just the beginning of a strong offensive performance for the Brevard County Manatees in an 8-3 win over the Lakeland Flying Tigers on Tuesday night at Space Coast Stadium.
The Manatees' (36-30) offense backed up pitchers Hiram Burgos and Brent Suter, who combine for a strong performance on the mound. Burgos, who was making the second start of his Major League rehab assignment, faced the minimum through the first three innings before giving up a pair of runs on four hits in his fourth and final inning. He struck out a total of four batters, including three in that final frame.
Suter (5-4, 3.33) took it the rest of the way with five innings of five-hit ball, surrendering only an unearned run to the Flying Tigers (30-37) in the ninth inning with six strikeouts. The duo of did not walk a batter, marking the fifth time this season that Brevard's pitching staff has not surrendered a walk in a game.
T.J. Mittelstaedt led off the bottom of the first with a home run off of Jeff Ferrell that would spark the offense for the Manatees. Mittelstaedt's homer was followed by a Greg Hopkins single, a Mitch Haniger double to plate Hopkins and then a single from Nick Ramirez to bring in Haniger that made it 3-0.
Brevard County scored an unearned run in the third after Hopkins reached on an error, stole second base and then came home three batters later on a single from Cameron Garfield.
Garfield drove in two more runs in the bottom of the seventh, knocking in both Haniger and Ramirez after Chadwin Stang had scored on a sacrifice fly from Mittelstaedt. Mittelstaedt also put up his third RBI of the night in the eighth inning, with a two-out single that drove in Brandon Macias.
With the Dunedin Blue Jays' extra-innings win over the Tampa Yankees on Tuesday night, the Manatees remain one-half game back of first place with one game to go in the first half. Brevard County will know its fate before they take the field on Wednesday night as Dunedin and Tampa will face-off at 11:00 a.m.
If the Blue Jays defeat the Yankees, Dunedin will clinch the first half title for the Florida State League North Division. Should Dunedin lose to Tampa, the Manatees would be able to claim the playoff berth with a win over Lakeland on Wednesday night, beginning at 6:35 p.m.
Brevard County will send All-Star David Goforth to the hill, while the Flying Tigers will counter with Hudson Randall (1-5, 4.58).