CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Tortugas did it all en route to a series-opening victory on Tuesday night. DH Ruben Ibarra registered his first career multi-home run game, SS Gus Steiger garnered a career-high four hits and reached base five times, while RHPs Reynardo Cruz, Julian Aguiar, and Owen Holt combined
CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Tortugas did it all en route to a series-opening victory on Tuesday night. DH Ruben Ibarra registered his first career multi-home run game, SS Gus Steiger garnered a career-high four hits and reached base five times, while RHPs Reynardo Cruz, Julian Aguiar, and Owen Holt combined on a five-hitter, as Daytona tripped up the Clearwater Threshers, 6-1, at BayCare Ballpark.
Clearwater (13-12) jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first. 3B Kendall Simmons (1-3, BB, SO) started the home first with a single to center but was erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of CF Yhoswar García (0-3, R, BB, SO). After García swiped second base, the speedster was awarded third base on a balk. 2B Hao Yu Lee (1-4, RBI) scored the runner and put the Threshers ahead with an RBI single to center.
In the top of the third, Daytona (13-15) jumped ahead for good. 3B Reyny Reyes (1-4, R, SO) and C Wilfred Astudillo (2-4, R) ignited a rally with consecutive hits to start the frame, while Steiger (4-4, R, 3 2B, BB) earned a walk to load the bases. RF Austin Hendrick (1-5, RBI, 3 SO) tied the score with a ringing base-hit into right, but Astudillo was thrown out trying to score the go-ahead run from second. Steiger took third, while Hendrick advanced to second on the throw.
Tied at one, CF Jay Allen II (0-3, RBI, BB) re-loaded the bags with another free pass. LF Jamal O'Guinn (0-4, RBI, SO) followed by slicing a liner into center that was run down. Steiger tagged and scored from third, but Hendrick was caught too far off second base and was tagged out to end the inning. The Spring Park, Minn. crossed the dish before the out was recorded though, giving O'Guinn credit for a sacrifice fly and putting the Tortugas in front, 2-1.
An inning later, Daytona started utilizing the long ball. On a 1-2 pitch to start the top of the fourth, Ibarra (2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI) unfurled a laser beam that snuck out beyond the left-field wall in the blink of an eye. The 2021 fourth-round pick's shot sailed out of the yard in 3.3 seconds at 113 mph for a solo home run, his second of the year. Ibarra's blast pushed the 'Tugas cushion to two, 3-1.
In the sixth, it was 2B Steven Leyton's (1-4, R, HR, RBI) turn to give one a ride. With the bases empty and two out, the León, Nicaragua native punched a fly ball that landed in Clearwater's left-field bullpen for a solo shot. Leyton's first home run of the year padded Daytona's lead to 4-1.
Ibarra came back for more in the eighth. The 23-year-old pummeled a 2-1 delivery on a line off the concrete wall beyond the right-field berm for his second home run of the night. Ibarra's third blast of the season and second of the night made it a four-run contest, 5-1.
Daytona tacked on one more insurance run in the ninth. Astudillo leadoff the frame with a knock and quickly moved to third on Steiger's third double of the night. Following a strikeout, Allen hit a ground ball up the middle that was prevented from rolling into center on a backhanded stab. Steiger was tagged out in a rundown between second and third, but Astudillo crossed on the fielder's choice, granting the 'Tugas a 6-1 edge.
Holt (1.0 IP, 2 H, SO) entered in the bottom of the ninth for Daytona and scattered a pair of singles to close out the series-opening triumph.
Cruz (4.0 IP, 2 H, R, ER, BB, 2 SO) settled down after yielding a run in the first and posted a season-high four innings of work in a no-decision. Aguiar (4.0 IP, H, BB, 4 SO) came on in support and was as close to unhittable as could be. The 20-year-old yielded one hit and struck out four en route to his second victory of the campaign.
RHP Oswald Medina (4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, BB, 2 SO) surrendered three runs over four innings for the Threshers, suffering his second defeat of the year.
The Tortugas will attempt to continue their winning ways on Wednesday. RHP Alex Johnson (1-1, 2.87) is anticipated to make his third start of the year for Daytona. Clearwater is expected to counter with LHP Gabriel Cotto (1-0, 3.94). Coverage on the Tortugas Radio Network will begin on the MiLB First Pitch app and www.daytonatortugas.com at 6:15 p.m. leading up to the 6:30 p.m. first pitch from Bay Care Ballpark.
After the six-game road swing, the Tortugas will return to Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Tuesday, May 17, to open up a series against the Dunedin Blue Jays, the Florida State League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. It will be a Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Radiology Associates Imaging. The Tortugas will don special pink-clad uniforms that will be auctioned off at the end of the season with all proceeds to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. It is also a Silver Sluggers Night by Conviva, featuring special team store and concession stand deals for members, plus more. The series opener features Taco Tuesday with options at the concession stands starting at just $3.
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 Single-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of Minor League Baseball’s Florida State League. The Tortugas play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in downtown Daytona Beach, Fla. 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.