LAKELAND, FL - The Daytona Tortugas (38-26, 74-59) lost ground in the midst of the Second Half North Division Title race with a pair of one-run losses to the Lakeland Flying Tigers (24-38, 58-72) by the scores of 3-2 and 5-4 at Henley Field Monday night. With the pair of losses, the Tortugas slid to 4 ½ games out of first and have lost their last four games.
The Tortugas took an early lead in the opening game of the series, scoring the first two runs of the game. In the third, Daytona got on the scoreboard first with a two-out Shed Long double to plate Chadwick Tromp.
In the fourth inning, Gavin LaValley doubled to begin the inning and came around to score on a Brian O'Grady ground out to make it 2-0.
However, Lakeland responded with two of their own runs in the home half of the fourth. With two outs, LHP Mike Sulivan (0-3) allowed a two-out triple to Ross Kivett to extend the inning. Zac Shepherd followed with a game-tying, two-run blast to tie the game 2-2.
The Flying Tigers took the lead in sixth when Wade Hinkle punched a single to right field and scored AJ Simcox, who set the inning with a lead-off walk, to give Lakeland a 3-2 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Sullivan suffered the loss, lasting 5 1/3 innings and allowing three earned runs. RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-1) notched the victory, allowing a pair of runs on three hits in six innings of work.
The Tortugas had to play catch-up from the early stages of the ballgame, as Lakeland jumped out to a 2-0 lead. In the second inning, the Flying Tigers loaded bases with a single, double, and walk against LHP Seth Varner before AJ Simcox laced a two-out, two-run single to give Lakeland the lead.
Garrett Boulware homered in the third inning to pull the Tortugas within one run. It was his first homer since July 18th. However, Lakeland opened up the game in the home half of the inning. A one-out error committed by Tortugas third baseman Blake Butler extended the inning and allowed Tim Remes to swat a three-run home run to widen the gap, 5-1.
Daytona took advantage of sloppy defense by the Flying Tigers in the fourth inning. With Gavin LaValley and Aristides Aquino each picking up base hits, Juan Duran reached on an error to allow LaValley to score. An errant throw home allowed Aquino to race around the bases to score, and make it a 5-3 game.
The Tortugas pulled within a run once more in the sixth inning, when LaValley clubbed his tenth homer of the season with one out in the frame, making it just a 5-4 deficit. Daytona pushed the tying-run to third base, but Aquino was thrown out by Tim Remes behind the plate on a ball that trickled away from the catcher to end the threat and inning.
Varner (7-9) suffered the loss, despite tossing the six innings of work. He allowed five runs, two earned, on 10 hits. RHP AJ Ladwig (11-9) picked up the win, working 5 1/3 innings of work and allowing four runs, two earned.
With the pair of one-run losses, it makes it three straight losses for the Tortugas by a single tally.
Daytona will look to resurrect their playoff hopes on Tuesday at Henley Field for the third game of the series. RHP Tejay Antone (14-6, 3.51 ERA) will make the start for the Tortugas, while LHP Matt Hall (3-2, 4.15 ERA) will get the nod for Lakeland. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m., with coverage beginning at 12:50 p.m. on AM 1230 and AM 1490 WSBB.
Notes: Daytona is trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012…This is the first losing streak of three or more games for the Tortugas since July 13-17th, when they lost five straight games…LaValley's home run was his second in his last three games.