DUNEDIN, FL - Morgan Lofstrom hit a one-out, solo home run off RHP Ty Tice in the top of the tenth inning Sunday afternoon to lift the Tortugas to a 6-5 win at Dunedin Stadium in the regular season finale. The Tortugas avoided the sweep by spreading around 15-hits. Bruce Yari led the way with four, while Courtney Hawkins and Randy Ventura both finished with three each.
Yari and Tyler Stephenson set new Daytona franchise records for individual fielding percentage by a first baseman and catcher respectively. Yari finished 2018 with a .997 fielding percentage, breaking the record of .996 set by Mike Dzurilla of the Daytona Cubs in 2001. Yari committed just two errors in 776 total chances in an FSL-high 96 games at first. Stephenson finished with a .996 fielding percentage, breaking John Mizerock's 37-year-old record of .993, which was set back in 1981 while with the Daytona Astros. Stephenson caught an FSL-high 97 games and made just three errors in 767 total chances.
The Tortugas were once again involved in a position player playing every position, as Nash Knight played all nine on Sunday. Knight started behind the plate, then moved first to third around the infield through the next four innings. In the sixth, Knight started in left field. After RHP William Oullette retired the first batter, he and Knight switched spots, as Knight came on to the mound and gave up a single Alberti Chavez. After the base hit he went back to left to finish the inning. The super utility man played center in the seventh before completing his quest around the field in the eighth, when he started in right and remained for the rest of the game. On the final day of 2017, Blake Butler played all nine spots for the Tortugas in a 3-0 win against the Fire Frogs.
Ibandel Isabel grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to bring in the first run of the day in the top of the first.
Brock Lundquist homered off LHP Kevin Canelon on the first pitch in the second to tie the game at one.
Ventura reached on an error to start the second, then scored from first a few pitches later on a Yari double to give the Tortugas the lead back. Isabel drove in Yari two pitches later with a single to run the lead to 3-1.
With two-on and two-out in the sixth, Yari drove in Chavez from second to extend the Tortuga lead to 4-1.
A two-out RBI triple off the bat of Alberto Mineo in the bottom of the sixth cut the score in half, 4-2.
Isabel led off the seventh with a double and came into score from second two batters later when Hawkins reached on a fielding error by Yeltsin Gudino to extend the lead to 5-2.
Dunedin got the run back in their half of the seventh. Logan Warmoth hit a sacrifice fly off RHP Aaron Fossas to drive in Knight and cut the deficit to 5-3.
The first two Blue Jays singled off RHP Joel Kuhnel in the ninth and an Isabel error in right field moved both base runners into scoring position. Warmoth made the Tortugas pay by lining a single up the middle one pitch later to tie the game at five. Dunedin got the winning run to third, but Kuhnel struck out Mineo for the second out and induced a ground-ball to end the threat.
Brantley Bell was the placed runner for the Tortugas in the top of the tenth, but he was caught trying to steal third for the first out in the inning. Lofstrom followed that up by hitting a solo home run to right center field to put the Tortugas up 6-5.
In the bottom of the tenth, the Blue Jays got the tying run to third, but Kuhnel got Riley Adams to ground into a 6-4-3 game ending double play.
Kuhnel (1-4) gets the win in relief. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in two innings with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. Tice (6-6) takes the loss after giving up the game winning home run.
The Tortugas are off Monday before starting a best-of-three playoff series with the Clearwater Threshers on Tuesday. Game one will be in Clearwater and games two and three (if necessary) will be at The Jack.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7 PM with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM with the Metcare Pregame Show on AM 1230, AM 1490, and FM 106.9 WSBB.
NOTES: The Tortugas improve to 56-7 when leading after 6 and 45-1 when leading after 8… The Tortugas finished 15-8 in day games… The win ended the Tortugas 8-game losing streak in extra innings… The Tortugas won the season series with Dunedin 7-5… Kevin Canelon finished with a 1.42 ERA in 6 starts this season (3 runs, 19 innings)... RHP Aaron Fossas matched a career high by going 4-innings in relief… Stuart Fairchild and Alberti Chavez have hit safely in 5 straight games… Randy Ventura finished with his sixth 3-hit game… Bruce Yari finished with 4 hits for the second time this season. He also recorded his 11th multi-RBI game. Yari and Isabel are the only Tortugas with multiple 4-hit games… Courtney Hawkins finished with his second 3-hit game of the season… Morgan Lofstrom became the first Tortuga not names Ibandel Isabel to homer since August 24th… Ibandel Isabel finished with his 24th multi-hit game.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.