Baseball has always been a team game, but it's not uncommon for an individual to shine in a group effort. On Thursday, St. Lucie's catcher took his turn in the spotlight.
The final score in Lakeland? Blake Forsythe 6, Flying Tigers 5.
Forsythe homered twice and plated six runs -- both career highs -- to help the Mets' Class A Advanced affiliate improve to a Minors-best 32-8 record.
"We have an incredible amount of talent on this team," Forsythe said. "Guys step up every night and help us win ballgames. Tonight, I was able to do that to help the team win.
"We have 32 wins now, and in the other 31, someone else has stepped up in the clutch when we needed it -- whether that's our starting pitching, our bullpen or our hitters."
The 22-year-old greeted reliever Luis Angel Sanz, who replaced Luis Marte after two scoreless innings, with a solo homer to begin the third inning. Then he connected on a grand slam off Sanz with one out in the fourth.
"It was a 2-0 count," Forsythe said of his first home run. "I was just looking for a fastball to hit. I got a fastball out over the middle half and was lucky to get the head out there and barrel it up and get the best of it.
"[The second home run] was a fastball that was left over the plate, a little bit higher. In that situation with the bases loaded, I'm looking to hit something to the big part of the field, something to center field. I'm looking for something up in the zone because I don't want to swing at something down in the zone and risk hitting into a double play. If it's a sac fly, so be it. If it falls in the gap, whatever. I knew I hit it pretty well so at least I would have a sac fly."
The backstop struck out swinging on a hit-and-run in the sixth. But he plated St. Lucie's sixth run on a one-out sacrifice fly to center field to snap a 5-5 tie in the top of the eighth.
"I came close to [a third home run] in my last at-bat. I hit a sac fly to the deep part -- 420 feet I think it is -- to center. I got an RBI out of that one, but I was happy with that because it gave us the lead. I don't mind as long as we get that run across the plate."
The outburst doubled Forsythe's previous RBI mark of three, last achieved in a 10-6 win over Fort Myers on April 23, 2011. It also gave him his first regular season multi-homer game.
He hammered two solo homers in the Savannah Sand Gnats' 5-4 loss to the Greensboro Grasshoppers in Game 1 of the South Atlantic League Finals last year.
Just as important for Forsythe, the outing could serve as a springboard for the rest of the season. He entered Thursday's game batting .210 with just six extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in 19 games.
"Baseball is a game of minor adjustments," the Tennessee native said. "I'm just trying to get comfortable sticking with my approach and being confident. I have to stick with my plan and keep working on it.
"You can't get too big and you have to take one pitch at a time. Baseball is a very humbling game. You can have two home runs one night and then turn right around and have the opposite effect the next. You need to keep an even keel."
On Thursday, first baseman Richard Lucas drew three walks and scored once, and Mets' No. 6 prospect Wilmer Flores was 2-for-5 to raise his average to .324.
Hamilton Bennett improved to 4-0 for St. Lucie after striking out one batter and surrendering one hit in two-thirds of an inning of relief. Adrian Rosario retired five of the final six batters of the game -- including two on strikeouts -- to earn his 11th save.
Victor Larez (1-1) allowed an unearned run over two innings to take the loss. Marte allowed one hit and struck out three batters before being replaced at the start of the third frame by Sanz, who yielded five runs on five hits and a walk in four innings of work.