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St. Lucie squeezes by Daytona in eighth, 4-3

Ibarra records second-straight multi-hit game, but two-run eighth for St. Lucie downs Daytona
1B Ruben Ibarra recorded his second-straight multi-hit game, driving in a run, but the St. Lucie Mets squeezed by the Daytona Tortugas, 4-3, on Thursday evening at Clover Park. (Aldrin Capulong)
August 26, 2021

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — In a back-and-forth contest throughout the evening, St. Lucie's haymaker in the eighth proved to be the knockout blow. The Mets picked up two runs in the bottom of the eighth and withstood a late push from the Tortugas in the ninth, as St. Lucie

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — In a back-and-forth contest throughout the evening, St. Lucie's haymaker in the eighth proved to be the knockout blow. The Mets picked up two runs in the bottom of the eighth and withstood a late push from the Tortugas in the ninth, as St. Lucie slipped by Daytona, 4-3, on Thursday night at Clover Park.

Tied at two, C Matt O'Neill (1-1, 2 BB) drew a leadoff walk for the Mets (51-45) in the eighth and advanced to second on a balk. Following another free pass to 2B Cesar Berbesi (1-2, R, 2 BB, SO), CF Rowdey Jordan (0-4) sacrifice bunted the runners over to second and third.

SS Branden Fryman (1-2, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB) made sure the sacrifice paid off by driving a ball out to deep center field. Justice Thompson tracked it down, but it was plenty deep enough for a sacrifice fly to put St. Lucie up for the first time, 3-2.

Thanks to heads up baserunning, Berbesi took third on the sacrifice fly. DH Kevin Kendall (2-5, RBI, SO) cashed in the smart play by ripping a knock to center. Berbesi scored on the single to give the Mets a two-run cushion, 4-2.

As always, Daytona (48-51) would not go quietly. LF Danny Lantigua (2-4, R, 2B) doubled down the right-field line with one out and Thompson (0-1, R, 3 BB) followed with his third walk of the night. After another four wide ones to C Daniel Vellojín (1-3, R, 2 BB, SO), St. Lucie summoned RHP Drake Nightengale (0.2 IP, SO) out of the bullpen with the tying and go-ahead runs aboard.

SS José Torres (1-4, RBI) pulled the Tortugas within a run, 4-3, on a sacrifice fly of his own to center field. However, Daytona could not sneak the tying run across, as Nightengale registered a swinging strikeout to end the game, sealing his second save of the season.

The 'Tugas started quickly, jumping out with the game's first run. Vellojín walked to start the contest and promptly advanced to third on a single to right from Torres. 1B Ruben Ibarra (2-5, RBI, 2 SO) smashed an infield hit off the third baseman to score the runner, putting Daytona in charge, 1-0.

It was a short-lived lead, as the Mets responded in the bottom half. Fryman clocked a one-out double into the alley in left-center field and came home on another two-bagger down the right-field line from LF Brandon McIlwain (2-5, 2B, RBI, SO).

In the fifth, Daytona jumped in front again. Thompson garnered a leadoff walk and went first to third on a base-hit to right from Vellojín. The ball was overrun in right field, allowing the speedy Thompson to chug around to score without a play, putting the Tortugas ahead, 2-1.

However, once more, the lead did not stick. Fryman began St. Lucie's half of the fifth with a walk, advanced to second on a Kendall single, and — after a double play and a hit batter — scored on a looping single into shallow right by 3B Warren Saunders (2-4, RBI, SO).

LHP Andrew Abbott (2.0 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 4 SO) surrendered the first run of his professional career in his Daytona debut, but still performed admirably. The 2021 second-round pick struck out a career-high four in a no-decision.

His counterpart, RHP Stephen Nogosek (1.0 IP, 2 H, R, ER, BB, SO) made a Major League rehab start for St. Lucie. The 26-year-old issued a run on two hits in his own no-decision.

RHP Luis Moreno (3.2 IP, 2 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) nearly surrendered the lead in the ninth, but with the help of his bullpen, collected his fourth win of the year in relief.

For the 'Tugas, RHP Manuel Cachutt (2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, SO) permitted a pair of tallies in that eighth inning, suffering his third defeat of the campaign.

Daytona will attempt to even the series on Friday, as RHP Jason Parker (4-2, 4.03) is expected to take the hill. St. Lucie is projected to counter with RHP Oscar Rojas (4-3, 4.33). Coverage on the Tortugas Radio Network will begin on the MiLB First Pitch app and at 5:55 p.m. leading up to the 6:10 p.m. first pitch from Clover Park.

The Tortugas will return home after the road trip to open up their final homestand of the season on Tuesday, August 31, against the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, the Low-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. It will be a Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Radiology Associates Imaging, as Daytona players and coaches will don special pink-tinted uniforms to mark the occasion. Silver Sluggers Night — the best club in baseball for fans 60-and-over — presented by Conviva Cares Solutions will also be a part of the festivities. Fans can get in on deals at the concession stand with $2.50 Michelob Ultra draft beers. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Multi-game plans, group packages, and single-game tickets are currently available and can be purchased online at or by calling the Tortugas’ Ticket Office at (386) 257-3172.

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.