Flying Tigers Trounce 'Tees in Opener, 9-2
LAKELAND, Fla. - Despite a big two home run performance by Victor Roache, the Brevard County Manatees fell to the Lakeland Flying Tigers, 9-2 at Joker Marchant Stadium on Tuesday night.
Roache, who had a three home run performance for Brevard County (10-6 second half, 46-36 overall) against Clearwater on May 4, had another magical performance tonight.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the fifth, Roache uncorked on a pitch from Lakeland starter Kevin Eichhorn (5-2, 2.40 ERA). The Milwaukee Brewers first round pick from 2012 crushed it deep to left field. The ball ended up on the concrete walkway behind the berm in left field, as the 'Tees trimmed the lead to one.
Now down 9-1 in the seventh, Roache delivered again. This time against reliever Tyler Clark, Roache blasted another ball to deep left. This one didn't carry as far, but still landed a quarter of the way up the berm for another solo shot.
Unfortunately for the Manatees, that was all the excitement the game featured. Lakeland's (4-14, 46-39) bats exploded for nine runs in the game's middle three innings to snap the team's 10-game losing streak.
It all went downhill in the fourth, when Major League rehabber Andy Dirks picked up the Flying Tigers' first hit with a single to center. After a sacrifice bunt and another single put runners at the corners, things began to get wacky.
With one out, Connor Harrell hit a tapper back to Manatees starter Jorge Lopez (8-4, 3.26). The right-hander spun and threw towards second base, but neither shortstop Orlando Arcia nor second baseman Nathan Orf was at the bag yet. Orf finally received the ball and stepped on the base for the force, but his rushed relay throw to first was high and Harrell was safe. Instead of an inning-ending double play, Lakeland was on the board with a 1-0 lead.
The craziness was not over, as Lance Durham followed with a single to right. With Austin Green at the plate, Durham broke for second base. As Cameron Garfield threw down to second, Harrell broke for the plate. Orf's throw back to the dish was late and Harrell slid in safely with a swipe of home to extend the lead to two.
The Flying Tigers attack did not stop there, as they tacked four more runs in the fifth on a RBI single by Jared Reaves and a two-run triple by Curt Powell, who later came around to score on a wild pitch.
Lakeland finally put the game out of reach with a pair of home runs off reliever Martin Viramontes in the sixth. Durham cracked a solo shot that hugged the right field foul pole for his third blast of the year. Three batters later, Reaves unloaded and drilled a pitch three-quarters of the way up the berm in left to extend Lakeland's lead to 9-1.
Brevard did have its fair share of opportunities to score, but could not tally the big base knock.
After Roache's blast in the fifth, Brevard County loaded the bases with one out. Arcia hit a shallow fly ball to center that was tracked down by Harrell. Alfredo Rodriguez, who reached on a single, was then gunned out at the plate, as he tried to tag from third to score the tying run.
Following another Roache long ball in the seventh, the Manatees missed another opportunity to capitalize. With runners at first and second and one out, Orf hit a soft flair towards first. James Robbins made the catch coming in and tagged out Jose Sermo, who was going back to first after taking his lead, for an inning-ending double play.
The Manatees' bats certainly got enough hits, as the team recorded 10 base knocks. Four players - Orf, Roache, Rodriguez and Sermo - all recorded two-hit nights. However, Roache's two homers were the only extra base-hits the 'Tees recorded in the ballgame.
Lopez took just his second loss since May 9. The Puerto Rico native was phenomenal through three innings, before things fell apart in the fourth. Lopez retired the first nine he faced and struck out four batters on just 30 pitches. However, in his final two innings, he allowed a season-high six runs on seven hits. He finished the night with one walk and six strike outs.
Eichhorn picked up his first win against the Manatees in 2014. The right-hander allowed just one run on five hits, walked two and struck out three over five innings of work.
Brevard County will look to end their three-game skid against Lakeland tomorrow, as they battle again at 6:30 p.m. at Joker Marchant Stadium. The game will feature an outstanding pitching matching, as the top two active ERA leaders in the Florida State League will square off. Tyler Wagner (7-4, 1.81) will get the start for the 'Tees against the Flying Tigers' Josh Turley (7-0, 1.69).
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