The Dunedin Blue Jays fought to the end, forcing extra innings with one last late comeback in their series finale against the Daytona Tortugas, but ultimately fell 6-5 in 10 innings. Despite the disappointing final score, the game had no lack of excitement. Dunedin's Nash Knight made a trip around the diamond, playing all nine positions in the contest while Rodrigo Orozco knocked two hits to end the season tied with teammate Ivan Castillo for the Florida State League's Batting Title.
There was intrigued from the start, as typical third baseman Nash Knight opened the game behind the plate, making just his second professional appearance at the catcher position. The first three batters of the game singled for Daytona, putting them up 1-0 early.
In the second inning, Knight moved out from behind the plate and headed to first base. Dunedin's Brock Lundquist lined a solo home run into the bullpen in left to tie the game in the home half of the inning.
Knight headed to second in the third inning and Daytona put up three runs in the frame, using a fielding error, a double, and a pair of singles to take a 3-1 lead.
The Blue Jays were unable to score in the third and the fourth, but Orozco knocked a single in the third to raise his average from .301 to .302, pulling him within two points of Castlilo's league-leading .304 average.
Knight headed to shortstop in the fourth for the first time in his professional career and third base in the fifth. On the mound, RHP Maverik Buffo provided Dunedin with 5.0 solid innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on nine hits while striking out five.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Orozco knocked another single up the middle, pulling himself into a tie with Castlilo for the batting title at .304.
RHP William Ouellette entered in relief in the sixth. After he recorded a fly out for the first out of the inning (to Knight, who had moved to left), Knight jogged in from the outfield and took over on the mound with Ouellette replacing him in left field. In his fourth pitching appearance of the season, Knight allowed a single to the only batter he faced before he swapped positions with Ouellette again.
A pair of singles allowed Knight's runner to score and put Daytona up 4-1.
In the home half of the sixth, Lundquist knocked a one-out single and Alberto Mineo tripled into the right field corner, cutting the lead to 4-2.
With Knight moving to centerfield in the seventh inning, Daytona added an additional run on a double by home run champ Ibandel Isabel and a Dunedin fielding error.
A walk to Knight, single by Yeltsin Gudino, and sacrifice fly by Logan Warmoth made it 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
Knight moved to rightfield in the eighth inning, completing his trip to all nine positions. RHP Claudio Custodio recorded a scoreless eighth inning for Dunedin and RHP Bryan Baker held Daytona scoreless in the ninth.
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Gudino and Riley Adams (who had entered the game replacing Orozco following his batting title-tying single in the fifth) each singled to lead off the inning. After a fielding error moved both runners into scoring position, Logan Warmoth singled up the middle to score both and tie the game. The base hit was Warmoth's third of the game, giving him an impressive .359 batting average in his last 10 games of the season.
With one out in the tenth inning, Morgan Lofstrom hit a solo home run off RHP Ty Tice to put Daytona back ahead. Dunedin put two runners on base in the bottom of the tenth, but All-Star reliever Joel Kuhnel induced a double play groundout to end the ballgame and Dunedin's season.
The Blue Jays finish the year with a 69-68 overall record and a 38-31 record in the second half. Castillo and Orozco become Dunedin's first Batting Champions since Eric Nielsen led the league with a .325 average in 2007.
Daytona's season will continue as they head to the North Division playoffs to square off against the Clearwater Threshers on Tuesday night. In the South Division, the Palm Beach Cardinals will take on the Fort Myers Miracle with the winners of each playoff series meeting for the Florida State League Championship.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.