The Daytona Tortugas used a five-run seventh inning Saturday night to defeat the Brevard County Manatees 6-4, in front of 2,311 at Space Coast Stadium. The loss was the Manatees third in four games to Daytona this week.
Things started well for the Manatees offensively, when Chris McFarland hit his first home run of the season to lead off the bottom of the first, answering the Daytona run that came in the top of the inning on three singles.
Brevard County (10-12) regained the lead in the fifth, when Victor Roache tripled off the wall in center, allowing Taylor Brennan to score, making it 2-1 in favor of the home team. Brennan drew a one out walk earlier in the inning.
Manatees’ starter Hiram Burgos (1-3, 3.81 ERA) gave up that first inning run, but he settled down nicely and pitched better as the game went along. His fast ball was topping out at 88 MPH early in the game, but he was touching 90 by the fifth and sixth innings.
“He’s a veteran pitcher who attacks the zone,” said Manatees manager Joe Ayrault. “I think the majority of his problems are in the first inning this season, once he works out of them he usually locks it in.”
Lock it in he did. Burgos had a stretch where he retired 10 Tortugas in a row, between the third and sixth inning. Unfortunately, it all unraveled in the seventh. Daytona had three men reach to start the inning, thanks to a walk, a single and a hit-by-pitch. Carlton Daal then struck out swinging and just like that Burgos was one pitch away from getting out of the inning.
He seemed to make that pitch to Phillip Ervin, who grounded a ball to shortstop Angel Ortega, who inexplicably muffed what was likely a double-play ball. That error allowed Taylor Sparks to score the tying run and it also ended the night for Burgos.
“He got the ground ball he needed,” said Ayrault. “I’d say 99 out of 100 times Ortega makes that play, he’s a great defender. That’s a tough one.”
With Tyler Spurlin on the mound, the Tortugas added to their lead. Alex Blandino hit a little blooper that landed fair down the right field line, making it 4-2 and Sebastian Elizalde rifled a two-run single through the middle, making it 6-2.
Ervin, who hit a walk-off home run in Friday’s first game of a doubleheader, was very much in the middle of things Saturday. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, Manatees second baseman Steven Halcomb hit a sinking line drive to center. Ervin made a full-extension dive, making the catch and saving what would have been a bases clearing double.
Victor Roache got the Manatees back within striking distance in the bottom of the inning, when he sent a deep shot into the darkness with Brennan on, making it a 6-4 contest. That would be as close as Brevard County would get. Roache finished the night going 3-for-4. He finished a double shy of the cycle.
“He’s swinging the bat well,” said Ayrault. “He’s always had the power. Two towering shots tonight, the one for the triple and the other a home run, big night for him.”
For more info: Daytona @ Brevard County boxscore
The Manatees will close out the weekend at Daytona on Sunday. Lefthander Wei-Chung Wang (1-1, 7.71 ERA) will start for the Manatees, while The Tortugas counter with righty Sal Romano (2-1, 3.93 ERA). Game time is 5:35 p.m.