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Walks drown Daytona in eighth, 8-7

Austin Hendrick, Allan Cerda, Leo Seminati leave the yard in excruciating defeat
RF Austin Hendrick doubled and smashed a two-run home run, but Fort Myers scored six in the eighth, as the Mighty Mussels defeated the Daytona Tortugas, 8-7, on Tuesday night at Hammond Stadium. (Aldrin Capulong)
July 20, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. — RF Austin Hendrick ripped a double and clocked a two-run home run, as part of a three-homer day for Daytona, but the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Daytona Tortugas, 8-7, on Tuesday night at

FORT MYERS, Fla. — RF Austin Hendrick ripped a double and clocked a two-run home run, as part of a three-homer day for Daytona, but the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Daytona Tortugas, 8-7, on Tuesday night at Hammond Stadium.

Daytona (31-36) started hot, as 3B Elly De La Cruz (1-4, R, 3B, SO) smashed a ball down the right-field line with two out in the top of the first. The 19-year-old chugged into third with a triple but was granted home when a relay throw to the bag skipped into the third-base dugout.

Up 1-0, CF Allan Cerda (2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, SO) kept the momentum going by depositing the first pitch of the second inning onto the berm in left field. His team-leading seventh home run of the campaign doubled the lead to two, 2-0.

After Fort Myers (37-30) scratched a run across in the fourth on a run-scoring single by C Charles Mack (1-3, R, RBI, BB, SO), the 'Tugas utilized the gopher ball again.

In the top of the fifth, C Daniel Vellojín (1-4, R, 2B) slapped a double over the head of the left fielder with one out. 1B Leo Seminati (1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, SO) stepped in two batters later and walloped a ball onto the boardwalk in left center. The Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy native's sixth homer of the season — a two-run clout — put Daytona up three, 4-1.

Leading 4-2 after the Mighty Mussels picked up an RBI single from RF Jeferson Morales (1-2, R, RBI, 3 BB, SO) in the fifth, the Tortugas picked up that run in the seventh as Hendrick (2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, SO) doubled to right and crossed on a single from DH Garrett Wolforth (1-4, RBI).

In the eighth, Hendrick was at the forefront again. Cerda collected a two-out single to left and the 20-year-old followed by driving a 2-1 offering into the bleachers in straightaway right. His third home run of the campaign gave Daytona a five-run cushion, 7-2.

However, walks emerged as the Tortugas' downfall in the bottom of the inning. Fort Myers loaded the bases on two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Back-to-back free passes with the bases loaded drew the Mighty Mussels within three, 7-4.

CF Misael Urbina (2-5, R, 2B, RBI, SO) collected Fort Myers' lone hit in the inning, slapping a single past the leaping glove of the shortstop to cut the deficit to two, 7-5. A passed ball with Morales at the plate chased home another tally to trim Daytona's lead down to one, 7-6.

Two more walks forced in the tying run and with 3B Yunior Severino (0-5, 3 SO) at the plate and the go-ahead run at third, a ball squirted away from home. Anticipating the runner attempting to make a break to the plate, the flip from the catcher went to no man's land up the third-base line with no one covering the dish. Urbina — who had stayed put at third — scampered home on the throwing error with the go-ahead run to put Fort Myers ahead for the first time in the game, 8-7.

LHP Denny Bentley (1.0 IP, SO) entered in the top of the ninth and retired Daytona in order to seal the Mighty Mussels come-from-behind win and his seventh save.

RHP Carlos Suniaga (1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 SO) yielded a pair of runs in the eighth but earned his second victory of the season. Daytona's RHP Stevie Branche (0.2 IP, H, 2 R, ER, 3 BB, SO) suffered his first blown save and defeat of his professional career.

RHP Christian Roa (4.0 IP, 2 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) took a no-decision for the Tortugas in his second start back off the injured list. LHP Aaron Rozek (7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 8 SO) hurled seven innings and punched out eight, but did not factor into the decision for the Mussels.

Daytona will look to put the sour taste from Tuesday in the rearview mirror on Wednesday, as RHP Jason Parker (2-1, 3.99) is expected to take the hill in game two of the series. Fort Myers projects to counter with RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (4-3, 5.36). Coverage on the Tortugas Radio Network will begin on the MiLB First Pitch app and www.daytonatortugas.com at 6:45 p.m. leading up to the 7 p.m. first pitch from Hammond Stadium.

Daytona will return to Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Tuesday, July 27, to open up a six-contest homestand against the St. Lucie Mets, Low-A affiliate of the New York Mets. It will be a Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Radiology Associates Imaging, as Daytona players and coaches will don special pink-tinted uniforms to mark the occasion. Silver Sluggers Night — the best club in baseball for fans 60-and-over — presented by Conviva Cares Solutions will also be a part of the festivities. Fans can get in on deals at the concession stand with $2.50 Michelob Ultra draft beers.

Season tickets, multi-game plans, group packages, and single-game tickets are currently available and can be purchased online at www.daytonatortugas.com or by calling the Tortugas’ Ticket Office at (386) 257-3172.

ABOUT THE DAYTONA TORTUGAS
The Daytona Tortugas are the Low-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of Minor League Baseball’s Low-A Southeast. The Tortugas play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in downtown Daytona Beach. Jackie Robinson Ballpark also plays host to Bethune-Cookman University, the Jackie Robinson Ballpark Museum, and many community events and initiatives of all sizes throughout the year.