DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Mauricio Llovera stepped up and dealt six dominant innings in the start, but the Threshers saw their playoff run come to a close on Thursday in a 5-3 loss to the Daytona Tortugas in the FSL North Division Series at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
Clearwater dropped the series, two games to one. The Tortugas advance to the Florida State League Championship, where they will battle the Fort Myers Miracle in a best-of-five set.
Llovera held the Tortugas hitless until the fifth, and scoreless until the seventh. Clearwater clung to a 3-2 lead in the eighth, but Daytona rallied for three runs to overtake Clearwater, 5-3.
The Threshers led early for the third straight day.
With two outs in the second, Edgar Cabral worked a full count against starter Austin Orewiler, and on the seventh pitch of the at-bat Cabral launched one over the wall in left to give Clearwater a 1-0 lead.
Clearwater grabbed a second run in the fifth.
After Grenny Cumana led off with a single to center, Raul Rivas beat out the relay on a potential double play. Kevin Markham was robbed on a diving stop by Randy Ventura at second, before Daniel Brito drove a double to deep left-center to plate Rivas and make it 2-0.
Llovera kept Daytona hitless until the bottom of the fifth, when Ventura broke up the bid with a single through the right side. Llovera then got Alfredo Rodriguez to pop out to first to end the inning.
The Threshers tacked on with two outs in the sixth. Mickey Moniak led off with a single up the middle, and stole second with two down before Cabral worked a walk.
Cumana followed by dunking a single into shallow right to score Moniak, bumping the Clearwater lead to 3-0.
After Llovera limited Daytona to just one hit through six scoreless innings, Daytona rallied in the seventh. Tyler Stephenson opened the inning with a single to center, and Ibandel Isabel - who set the FSL record this year with 35 home runs - launched a two-run shot to left to bring the Tortugas to within one.
Llovera exited following a walk to Bruce Yari. Jakob Hernandez entered in relief, and got Brantley Bell to ground into a forceout before Ventura reached on an error on Brito at second. Rodriguez then drew a walk to fill the bases with just one out.
With the tying run at third, Hernandez worked his way out of the jam. The lefty, who led all FSL relievers in strikeouts per nine this year, cut down Stuart Fairchild on strikes for the second out, and got Taylor Trammell to line to right to end the threat.
Daytona pushed ahead in the eighth. Courtney Hawkins doubled on a two-strike pitch from reliever Trevor Bettencourt, and Stephenson singled through the right side. A wild pitch permitted Hawkins to score the tying run.
After Bettencourt struck out Isabel, Bruce Yari doubled to right to give the Tortugas the lead. With two outs, a wild pitch moved Yari to third, and he would score on Ventura's infield single to make it 5-3.
Ryan Hendrix worked a perfect ninth to earn his second save in as many days.
The Florida State League Championship begins on Friday, when the Tortugas visit the South-Champion Fort Myers Miracle at 7 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.