TAMPA, Fla. - Despite recording 10 hits and striking out 11 batters, the Brevard County Manatees fell to the Tampa Yankees, 10-6 on Thursday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
After Brevard County (29-29 second half, 65-59 overall) out to a 1-0 lead on a Mike Garza RBI double, the Yankees (32-28, 65-65) bats exploded in the third inning and went on to score at least one run in every inning until the end of the seventh.
Once again, it was the long ball that keyed Tampa's success. After Manatees starter Jorge Lopez (9-9, 4.30 ERA) kept the Yankees hitless through the first two innings, Ericson Leonora and Reymond Nunez smashed back-to-back home runs to lead off the third, which gave Tampa the lead, 2-1.
Courtesy of Nunez, the Yankees broke the game wide open in the fourth. After the first run came across on a fielder's choice by Jose Rosario, Lopez struck out Trent Garrison for the second out of the inning.
Following a walk to Leonora, Nunez hammered another ball deep to left field. Once again, the ball carried out of the ballpark; this time it was a three-run home run to make it 6-1, Tampa.
The blast was Nunez's second home run of the game and third long ball in his last two contests. With a double in the seventh, the first baseman finished his night with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate with four runs driven in.
The Yankees would push across two more runs against Lopez in the fifth. After walking the first two batters of the frame, Jon Huizinga came out of the bullpen. The 34-year-old got through the inning, but could not keep the inherited runners from scoring. With one out, Trent Garrison laced a double passed a diving Michael Reed in right to drive home two more runs to make it 8-2.
Mike Ford ripped a run-scoring single in the sixth off Huizinga and Mark Payton drove home Tampa's final tally in the seventh with a single to center off Tyler Spurlin.
In the last two games played at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees scored 21 runs on 31 hits. This comes directly after Tampa scored just one run on 11 hits in the first two games of the series in Viera.
Lopez took his ninth loss of the season after going just four-plus innings. The right-hander allowed eight runs on six hits, walked four and struck out five.
Huizinga utilized the strike out a lot more in his second appearance with the 'Tees. The side-armer punched out five batters in his two innings of work. Huizinga also yielded one run on three hits and walked three in his second game in affiliated baseball since 2003.
Brevard County's offense showed fight, as they put the tying run on deck in the ninth inning. The first four batters reached base against reliever Ramon Benjamin, which included an RBI double by Orlando Arcia and a run-scoring single by Reed, but could not get any closer.
The Manatees hit well against Tampa starter Brett Gerritse (5-7, 4.12). With the Yankees leading 6-2, Brevard County chased the righty from the game in the sixth when they put they brought the tying run to the plate. After three singles and a sacrifice fly by Cameron Garfield, Gerritse got Greg Hopkins to fly out to right to end his evening.
With two down, right-hander Caleb Cotham, who was added to the Tampa roster from Double-A Trenton earlier in the day, came in out of the bullpen. After surrendering an RBI single to Nathan Orf, Cotham struck out Arcia to end the threat.
Gerritse picked up his fifth win of the season, despite allowing four runs over 5.2 innings. He gave up six hits, walked four and punched out five.
Orf, Arcia, Reed and Garza all had solid nights with the bat. Each of the four players recorded two hits and drove home a run in the loss. Alfredo Rodriguez recorded a base-hit as well to extend his hitting streak to seven games.
With the loss, Brevard County split the season series with Tampa at nine games apiece. The home team dominated in the series, as both squads went 7-2 in their home ballpark.
With Daytona's victory, the Manatees are now four games back of first place in the Florida State League North Division. Back-to-back losses to the Yankees have also put Brevard County two games back of Tampa for second place in the division.
The 'Tees will look to gain some ground tomorrow when they travel to Clearwater to take on the Threshers in a doubleheader. Game one will start at 5:00 p.m. at Bright House Field with game two slated to begin a half-hour after the first game's completion. Brevard County will be the home team in game two, as it is a makeup for a game that was postponed at Space Coast Stadium on August 10.
Taylor Williams (1-1, 1.80) goes for his second straight victory in game one against right-hander Colin Kleven (6-9, 4.41). Chad Pierce (3-8, 4.63) gets the spot start in the nightcap for the Manatees. Clearwater's game two starter has yet to be named.