With manager Luis Sojo on the verge of the Florida State League wins record, the Tampa Yankees couldn't quite get it done in the first two games of their series against the Brevard County Manatees. On Thursday, one of the team's veterans and a newcomer made sure their skipper wouldn't wait any longer.
Nik Turley, a 22-year-old right-hander, combined with two relievers to throw a one-hit shutout and No. 3 Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez launched a homer against the Class A Advanced Manatees, to lead Tampa to a 1-0 win and give Sojo the record-breaking victory.
Sojo's 419 career wins in the Florida State League top the mark set by Luis Dorante, who managed the Jupiter Hammerheads for six years. Dorante is currently at the helm of the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder.
"It is good to have a record like that as a manager," Dorante said. "It is great to be in the Florida State League and have that kind of success. I wish him the best. He's a great manager."
Turley allowed one hit without a walk and struck out six in six innings. The only hit off him came leading off the fourth when Reggie Keen lined a single to left field.
Relievers Manuel Barreda and Mark Montgomery finished off the final three innings, combining for three punchouts and three walks.
Sanchez provided the only run of the game with a longball in the seventh. He was promoted to Tampa from Class A Charleston three days ago, along with No. 4 Yankees prospect Mason Williams and No. 14 Tyler Austin.
"The first couple of years I managed, I was thinking like a player. ... With what I'm doing now, I'm a manager," Sojo told the Tampa Tribune last week. "My job is to make these guys better players. My job is to make sure these guys go to Double-A and not back to low A-ball. My job is to get these guys to play hard seven days a week. You can't play hard six days a week, because that one day that you don't play hard could be the day that somebody is watching you."
Sojo, who won five World Series during his 13-year playing career, first managed in the Minors in 2002. He took over for Norwich Navigators skipper Stump Merrill in midseason, eventually leading the squad to an Eastern League title.
The former infielder joined Tampa in 2006, where he continued his winning ways. He guided the Yankees to a league-best 83-56 record in 2007 and then a Florida State League championship in 2009.
In six years with the squad -- he took the 2010 season off -- Sojo has compiled a 419-346 record, good for a .548 winning percentage.
Still, Sojo has made it no secret what his ultimate goal is.
"I don't want to spend 20 years in the Florida State League," he told the Tribune. "I don't want to spend 20 years in the Minor Leagues. I want to get to the big leagues."