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Johnson Untouchable as 'Tees Blank Lakeland

April 8, 2014 - Florida State League (FSL) - Brevard County Manatees News Release

LAKELAND, Fla. - Brevard County Manatees left-handed pitcher Hobbs Johnson had everything going for him in his first professional start, as he shutout the Lakeland Flying Tigers over six innings and allowed just two hits en route to a 6-0 Brevard County win at Joker Marchant Stadium on Tuesday night.

The southpaw did not allow a hit until the third inning; when Lakeland third baseman Tyler Hanover led off with a single. Johnson bounced back, however, and retired the next three men in order.

Johnson only allowed two more base runners the rest of his outing and those runners did not stay on the basepaths for long. The 'Tees (4-1) starter erased both a fourth-inning walk and a fifth-inning single with inning-ending double plays. When his day was done, Johnson had faced the minimum number of hitters in five of his six innings pitched.

When Johnson exited the game after the sixth inning, Martin Viramontes and Mike Strong shut down the Flying Tigers (3-2) the rest of the way. Their three scoreless innings combined helped Johnson earn his first professional decision. The lefty had made 11 relief appearances in 2013 at Rookie Helena and Class-A Wisconsin, but Tuesday night was his first decision as a pro.

The Manatees' offense, of course, had to provide Johnson with some support and it wasted no time. With one out in the first inning, second baseman Orlando Arcia walked and catcher Cameron Garfield hit a screaming line drive that Lakeland shortstop Dixon Machado could not handle. That put runners on first and second for left fielder for Victor Roache and the clean-up hitter sent a towering fly ball over the left field wall. The Manatees' first home run of the season gave them a 3-0 advantage.

Brevard County later added insurance and it came on a strange play in the fourth inning. The 'Tees had the bases loaded with first baseman Garrett Cooper on first, third baseman Mike Garza on second and center fielder Tyrone Taylor on first. Garfield came up and hit a single to left field. The single scored Cooper easily from third and Lakeland left fielder Jeff Holm threw home to try to get Garza who was also trying to score.

Garza scored easily, as Holm's throw was cut off, but Garfield was rounding first and heading for second. Lakeland forced Garfield into a rundown, but Taylor, who had advanced to third during the play, broke for home. That turned the Tigers' attention toward home, but their throw to get Taylor was not in time and Garfield advanced to second. When the dust settled, the 'Tees had taken a 6-0 lead.

Lakeland starting pitcher Yorfrank Lopez was charged with all six runs, though only two of them were earned. He was saddled with his first loss of the season after pitching 3.2 innings, in which he allowed five hits, walked three and struck out four.

With the win, the Manatees now sit alone atop the Florida State League North Division. Meanwhile, the Flying Tigers dropped their first game since Opening Day.

The 'Tees and Tigers face each other again on Wednesday night at Joker Marchant Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The probable starting pitchers are right-hander Tyler Wagner (1-0, 0.00 ERA) for Brevard County and right-hander Edgar De La Rosa (0-1, 0.00) for Lakeland.

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