The Dunedin Blue Jays turned to small ball to provide run support for RHP Conor Fisk on Saturday night at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Daytona Tortugas. Patience at the plate and a pair of squeeze bunts provided the offense for the Jays while Fisk worked deep into the game and allowed just two runs to pick up the win.
Rehabbing Buffalo Bisons pitcher Chris Smith started on the mound for Dunedin, throwing a scoreless first inning and striking out a pair. Conor Fisk entered in the second and was greeted rudely by Daytona hitters. The first four batters he faced reached on three singles and a walk and two of those runners came around to score. The Jays were able to limit the damage in the inning to two runs by inducing a 4-6-3 double play.
Fisk allowed two more hits his second inning of work but escaped without allowing a run when RF Andrew Guillotte and 2B Cavan Biggio ended the inning with a perfectly executed relay from deep right field to throw out Daytona 2B Shed Long attempting to score from first on a double by 3B Nick Senzel to end the inning.
Selfless play allowed the Blue Jays to tie the score in the bottom of the third. With one out, SS Kevin Vicuna singled and Guillotte doubled to give the Jays a pair of runners in scoring position. Biggio then laid down a squeeze bunt to score Vicuna from third. 1B Max Pentecost followed Biggio's bunt with a squeeze bunt of his own to score Guillotte and tie the game.
"The funny part about that decision is that it wasn't mine, it was the players'," manager John Schneider said after the game about the back-to-back bunts. "We tell them to be aware of situations with runners on third. Biggio, that's a part of his game and he noticed where the defense was and did it himself. It surprised me that Max did it, but it worked out well. It's an added weapon, and when guys start realizing it on their own without me initiating it, I like it even more."
"I figured they probably weren't going to be looking for it again," Pentecost said about his decision to bunt. "I figured I could do my part and make sure that run gets in to tie it up."
The Blue Jays used patience at the plate to take the lead in the seventh inning. After LF D.J. Davis reached base on a strike three wild pitch, Guillotte, Biggio, and Pentecost worked three consecutive walks to force in the go-ahead run. Danny Jansen followed with a two-run single to put the game out of reach for Daytona.
The three runs were more than enough for Fisk, who didn't allow a hit after the third inning until Tortugas SS Alfredo Rodriguez singled with one out in the eighth inning. He finished his night having thrown 6.1 innings of six-hit ball, allowing two runs and striking out a pair.
LHP Daniel Young relieved Fisk in the eighth and stranded a pair of inherited runners. RHP Tom Robson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth to earn his first save of the year. Fisk earned his second win on the year, providing the Blue Jays with 6.0 or more innings of work for the fourth consecutive outing.
With the win, the Blue Jays and Tortugas leave their three game series tied for second place in the Florida State League with idential 20-17 records. The Blue Jays will have an off day on Sunday before returning to action on Monday, May 15th at home against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. RHP Jordan Romano is scheduled to start game one of the four game series against Charlotte with the first pitch at 6:30 PM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.