CLEARWATER, Fla. - In a game that featured 408 total pitches, 25 total runs, and 21 free passes, the Daytona Tortugas erased an early seven-run deficit to salvage the final game of their series against the Dunedin Blue Jays, 14-11, on Thursday afternoon at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium.
With the win, Daytona (27-35, 62-65) moves to within a half-game of the Clearwater Threshers for the final playoff spot in the Florida State League North Division with 10 games remaining. As of press time, Clearwater's contest against the St. Lucie Mets had not yet started.
Trailing 7-0 going to the top of the fifth, the Tortugas offense sprung to life. After a walk and an error, RF Andy Sugilio (3-6, 3 R, RBI) poked a single to center to get Daytona on the board, 7-1. Following a wild pitch and another walk, 1B Bruce Yari (1-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SO) stroked a base-hit through the right side of the infield. Two runs crossed on the knock to make it a four-run affair, 7-3. 3B Bryant Flete (2-5, R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 SO) proceeded to add a run-scoring single of his own to pull the 'Tugas within three, 7-4. LF Drew Mount (2-5, R, 3B, 2 RBI, SO) capped the six-run frame with a two-RBI single up the middle - making it 7-6 - after four-and-a-half frames.
Dunedin (34-28, 75-52) pushed across a trio of runs in the bottom of the fifth to go back up by four, 10-6, but Daytona's bats remained as hot as the weather. The Tortugas managed to load the bases after a hit-by-pitch, walk, and a single. SS José García (3-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB) drew the 'Tugas to within two, 10-8, as the 21-year-old hammered a double off the wall in right-center. Later in the stanza, DH Hendrik Clementina (3-5, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 SO) wallopped a drive over the center fielder's head. Two runs crossed on the two-base hit, dragging Daytona even at 10 all.
The Blue Jays managed to regain a one-run advantage on an RBI single from LF Norberto Obeso (3-4, 3 R, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SO), but that lead would not last.
There was no wasted time when it came to tying the contest in the top of the seventh. Mount ignited the rally with a triple into left-center and immediately scored on a base-hit from C Mark Kolozsvary (1-3, 3 R, RBI, BB, SO). Now tied at 11, Sugilio singled and Yari walked to load the bases. Flete subsequently drew a walk of his own to force in the go-ahead run, giving Daytona their first lead, 12-11. Immediately after a pitching change, Clementina ripped another hit to center. Two men scored on the play to give the Tortugas a three-tally edge, 14-11.
From that point on, Daytona's bullpen protected the fort. LHP Andy Cox (0.2 IP, H, BB, SO) and RHP Connor Bennett (1.1 IP, 2 BB, 4 SO) kept the Tortugas in front into the ninth, as RHP Michael Byrne (1.0 IP, BB, SO) collected the final three outs for his third save of the year.
RHP Diomar López (1.2 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 2 SO) yielded a single tally in relief but earned his fourth victory of the campaign. Dunedin's RHP Kyle Weatherly (1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, SO) issued four runs and was saddled with a blown save and his fourth loss.
Neither starter received a decision on Thursday. Daytona's RHP Aaron Fossas (3.0+ IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 2 SO) failed to record an out in the fourth. RHP Josh Winckowski (4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, SO) could not escape the fifth for the Blue Jays.
Daytona's final road trip of the season continues on Friday night, as the Tortugas head to Bradenton to open up a three-contest set against the Marauders, the High-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. RHP Mac Sceroler (5-3, 4.02 ERA) is scheduled to toe the slab in the lid-lifter for Daytona. Bradenton is scheduled to counter with RHP Nick Economos (5-3, 1.97 ERA).
The Tortugas Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 6:15 p.m. ET, leading up to the 6:30 p.m. ET start at LECOM Park. Friday evening's contest can be heard on www.daytonatortugas.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
Following the final road trip of the season, Daytona will return to The Jack to open up a seven-game homestand and four-game set against the St. Lucie Mets, the High-A affiliate of the New York Mets. It will be a Belly Buster Monday at the ballpark, presented by Marco's Pizza. Starting at just $13, fans can enjoy all-you-can-eat hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and popcorn throughout the evening.
Tickets are still 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 High-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of the Florida State League. The Tortugas play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in downtown Daytona Beach, Fla. Jackie Robinson Ballpark also plays host to Bethune-Cookman University, the Beijing Shougang Eagles of National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) and many large community events and initiatives throughout the season.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.