DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — CF Allan Cerda continued his recent tear at the plate, extending his on-base streak to 12 games and registering an RBI in both ends of the twinbill, as the Daytona Tortugas rallied to capture game one, 4-3, while the St. Lucie Mets snared the nightcap, 4-1, before 1,866 fans at Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Thursday night.
In the opener, Daytona (36-39) jumped out to an early lead in the second. Cerda (1-2, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB, SO) drew a leadoff walk and SS Ivan Johnson (1-3, SO) followed with a single to right. After a strikeout and a 1B Leo Seminati (2-3, SO) single, LF Ashton Creal (1-1, R, RBI, 2 BB) picked up a bases-loaded walk to chase home a run, giving the Tortugas a 1-0 edge.
The lead didn't last, though, as St. Lucie (40-35) barreled back in the top of the third. C Matt O'Neill (0-2, R, BB, SO) earned a leadoff free pass and, following a pair of lineouts, CF Jaylen Palmer (1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 SO) cranked a towering two-run home run out to dead center field. The 452-foot blast — Palmer's second of the season — put the Mets in front, 2-1.
St. Lucie scooted ahead by two, 3-1, in the fourth when 2B José Peroza (1-3, R, 2B, SO) doubled to start the inning before stealing third and scoring on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch of SS Branden Fryman (0-2, RBI, SO).
Daytona battled back to draw even in the fifth. RF Austin Hendrick (0-1, R, 3 BB) worked a leadoff walk and two batters later scampered home from first on a double off the left-field fence by Cerda.
Still down 3-2 with two outs, 3B Elly De La Cruz (2-3, SO) hit a hard grounder to first that was stopped on a nice sliding play. Yet, the 19-year-old's speed was enough to create havoc. De La Cruz not only beat the throw to first but forced an errant toss that rolled down the first-base line. Cerda hustled home to score from second on the throwing error, tying the game at three.
An inning later, Daytona grabbed the lead for good thanks to a cavalcade of walks. Creal drew four wide ones to start the frame and advanced to third on a two-base pickoff throwing error. Following walks to C Daniel Vellojín (0-3, BB, 2 SO) and Hendrick that loaded the bags, DH Wendell Marrero (0-3, RBI, 2 SO) smashed a sacrifice fly to left, giving the Tortugas a one-run advantage, 4-3.
RHP Wes Robertson (1.0 IP, SO) entered in the top of the seventh and closed out the victory. The 25-year-old retired St. Lucie in order to earn his first save in Daytona and his third overall this season.
RHP Alberto González (2.0 IP, H, BB, 3 SO) punched out three in his Jackie Robinson Ballpark debut, earning his first Tortugas' victory and third overall in the campaign. Starter RHP Jason Parker (4.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO) picked up a no-decision after hurling 4.0 frames.
St. Lucie's RHP Austin Faith (1.0 IP, R, ER, 3 BB, SO) did not yield a hit in his inning of relief but permitted the eventual winning run to score, suffering his fourth defeat. RHP Junior Santos (4.0 IP, 6 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 5 SO) received a no-decision, as well, in his game one start for the Mets.
In game two, the Tortugas dented the scoreboard first, again. DH Austin Hendrick (0-2, R, BB, SO) weaseled a one-out walk and took second on a ground out. CF Allan Cerda (1-3, 2B, RBI, SO) subsequently hammered a 108-plus mph liner off the padded wall in left. Hendrick crossed from second on the 21-year-old's double, giving Daytona the early lead, 1-0.
It stayed that way until the fifth when St. Lucie jumped in front for good. LF Brandon McIlwain (0-2, R, BB) coaxed a one-out walk before C José Colina (2-3, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI) punished a sharp grounder that deflected off the first baseman's mitt and toward the Mets' right-field bullpen. McIlwain sped around the bases to score from first on the double. Advancing to third on the throw to the plate, Colina was then able to score on a passed ball, putting the Mets up 2-1.
St. Lucie added insurance in the sixth and seventh. In the sixth, DH Quinn Brodey (0-2, R, BB) walked, moved to second on a ground out, and scored on a miscommunication-aided double to left from CF Alexander Ramírez (1-2, 2B, RBI, BB, SO). An inning later, Colina looped a double that stayed fair down the line in left. A wild pitch moved the runner over to third, later coming home on a ground out to second from SS Anthony Walters (0-2, RBI, BB).
With the Mets in charge, 4-1, Daytona pieced together one last rally. SS Ivan Johnson (1-3, 2B, 2 SO) picked up a double to left that was lost in the lights and raced third on a wild pitch before 1B Leo Seminati (0-2, BB, SO) walked to bring the tying run to the plate.
RHP Reyson Santos (2.0 IP, H, BB, 2 SO) managed to buckle down, registering a three-pitch strikeout to end the game and seal his seventh save of the season.
The Mets RHP Oscar Rojas (5.0 IP, 2 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 7 SO) did not wilt after the first-inning woes, posting 5.0 strong frames to earn his third win of the season. RHP James Marinan (5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) allowed just two hits for Daytona, yet was still saddled with his fifth loss of 2021.
The series continues with another Friday Night Happy Hour presented by Wicked Weed Brewing. Fans will be able to enjoy free tastings of a selection of Wicked Weed Brewing draft beers from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Additionally, patrons will be able to enjoy Wicked Weed Brewing beers at a reduced price at all our beer stands throughout the evening. The Tortugas will also be celebrating Christmas in July with fans encouraged to wear Christmas attire to the ballpark. In addition, all fans will be entered to win a special Christmas gift from under the ‘Tugas tree every half-inning.
RHP Bryce Bonnin (2-0, 1.29) — Cincinnati's No. 17 prospect entering the season according to Baseball America — is expected to take the mound for Daytona in game four of the series. St. Lucie is projected to counter with LHP Franklin Parra (3-3, 5.29). Coverage on the Tortugas Radio Network will begin on the MiLB First Pitch app and www.daytonatortugas.com at 6:50 p.m. leading up to the 7:05 p.m. first pitch from Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
Season tickets, multi-game plans, group packages, and single-game tickets are currently available and can be purchased online at www.daytonatortugas.com or by calling the Tortugas’ Ticket Office at (386) 257-3172.
ABOUT THE DAYTONA TORTUGAS
The Daytona Tortugas are the Low-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of Minor League Baseball’s Low-A Southeast. The Tortugas play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in downtown Daytona Beach. Jackie Robinson Ballpark also plays host to Bethune-Cookman University, the Jackie Robinson Ballpark Museum, and many community events and initiatives of all sizes throughout the year.