VIERA, Fla. - Thanks to a walk-off single by Parker Berberet, the Brevard County Manatees kept their playoff dreams alive with a 2-1 victory over the Lakeland Flying Tigers in game two of Tuesday's doubleheader at Space Coast Stadium.
With the Brevard County (34-30 second half, 70-60 overall) and Lakeland (19-46, 61-71) knotted at one, Orlando Arcia walked against Flying Tigers reliever Brennan Smith to start the bottom of the eighth inning. After Tyrone Taylor struck out, Arcia broke for second on a 1-1 pitch to Michael Reed. Lakeland catcher Austin Green's throw was too high and the 20-year-old slid into second with his 29th stolen base of the year.
Smith then walked Reed to put runners at first and second for Berberet. On a 2-2 count, the Yorba Linda, Calif. native hit a high chopper towards third base. Tyler Hanover made a leaping attempt to try and snag it, but the ball went over his head. Arcia raced around to score on the single to give the Manatees the walk-off victory, 2-1.
The thrilling win was possible thanks to some heroics an inning prior. With Flying Tigers starter Tommy Collier (3-2, 3.89 ERA) holding onto a 1-0 lead in search of a complete game, Garrett Cooper started the rally with a walk.
Cooper was then pinch-ran for by Alfredo Rodriguez and Greg Hopkins advanced him to second on a sacrifice bunt to third. Once again, it was Jose Sermo who delivered the clutch base-hit. On a 2-2 pitch, Sermo grounded one into center field. Rodriguez raced home from third to tie the game at one on the single.
With runners at first and second and only one out, Brevard County had a chance to win it in that frame, but was unable to do so. After Smith came in to relieve Collier, Nathan Orf hit a deep fly ball down the right field line, but it was tracked down by Jeff McVaney. Victor Roache, who came into to pinch-run for Sermo, was running on the pitch and got doubled off first base to end the inning.
After six scoreless innings, Lakeland grabbed the initial lead against Manatees reliever Martin Viramontes in the top of the seventh. With one out, Viramontes plunked McVaney on a 1-2 pitch to put a runner on base. Austin Green then singled to left-center to put make it first and third. Connor Harrell followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center to score McVaney and give Lakeland the lead, 1-0.
Despite that one hiccup, Viramontes was stellar again in relief for the 'Tees. The right-hander picked up the win in his third straight outing, as he yielded one run on one hit over three innings. Viramontes also racked up six punch outs, one shy of tying his season-high.
This came in support of starter Mike Strong (2-2, 2.67), who was masterful yet again. The southpaw retired the first nine he faced and allowed just two hits over five shutout frames. Strong struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Collier was great for the Flying Tigers, as well. In 6.1 innings, the right-hander allowed just the one run in the seventh inning on six hits. He struck out six and walked three in the no-decision.
Orf, Arcia and Sermo led Brevard County offensively in the nightcap, as all three players picked up multi-hit games. Arcia had an incredible doubleheader, going 5-for-9 with three runs scored, a home run, a walk and two stolen bases.
The 'Tees will look to keep their playoff dreams alive tomorrow night, as they take on the Flying Tigers at 6:35 p.m. at Space Coast Stadium. Major League rehabber Wei-Chung Wang (0-0, -.-- ERA) will get the start for Brevard County. Wang appeared in 13 games with the Milwaukee Brewers this year before going on the disabled list. Lakeland's starter for tomorrow has yet to be named.