In a winner-take-all Game 5 of the Florida State League Championship, the Lakeland Flying Tigers were held to just three hits but made them count as they blanked the Jupiter Hammerheads for a 2-0 victory at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Tightly contested as the entire Series had been, Wednesday's decisive game was at a scoreless deadlocked after seven innings. Both starting pitchers rose to the elimination game occasion and were stellar on the mound.
For Lakeland, Warwick Saupold scattered three hits over seven innings. He walked two and struck out five batters.
Robert Morey was even better for Jupiter. Morey completed seven innings and allowed just one hit and one walk. He struck out eight.
With the game in the hands of the Hammerheads' bullpen, the Flying Tigers capitalized in the eighth inning, for the second night in a row.
Rett Varner was greeted by a Hernan Perez single in the bottom of the eighth, for Lakeland's first base hit since the second inning. Michael Rockett then put down a sacrifice bunt to move Perez into scoring position and Marcus Lemon followed with a walk. Michael Brady replaced Varner on the hill to face Dixon Machado. On a 2-1 pitch to Machado, Lakeland put the base runners in motion. Catcher J.T. Realmuto's throw to third base went errantly into left field and Perez came in to score the Flying Tigers first run of the night. Brady went on to retire Machado on an infield pop out. Tyler Collins then gave Lakeland a 2-0 advantage with an RBI-single before the frame ended.
Noah Perio doubled for Jupiter with two out in the top of the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Realmuto. However, he grounded out to end the game and the Hammerheads' season as the Flying Tigers were crowned champions.
For Lakeland, it is their fourth FSL Championship since 1976 and the first in 20 years. Jupiter's Championship drought continues, although they did win the South Division and appear in the Championship Series for the first time in their 15-year history this season.
Each of the five games in the Finals was decided by two or fewer runs. Both teams collected 39 hits, with the Flying Tigers outscoring the Hammerheads, 20-18.