Daytona’s pitching was the story Sunday night, shutting out the Brevard County Manatees 4-0 in the series opener at Space Coast Stadium. Four Tortugas’ pitchers held the Manatees to just two hits and retired the last 20 Manatees in a row.
Nick Travieso (5-5) gave up both Manatees hits, a first inning single to Omar Garcia and a third inning single to Chris McFarland. McFarland’s single was the last hit the Manatees would record in the game. Nolan Becker, El’Haaj Muhammed and Carlos Gonzalez combined to pitch the last four scoreless innings.
Garcia, who not only singled, but stole two bases in that first inning for the Manatees was taken out of the game in the third inning, after being hit in the face. “Hopefully Omar’s alright,” said Manatees manager Joe Ayrault, who said the pitch got Garcia on the bottom part of his chin. “It was pretty swollen, but I have to look at it on video to see if it hit the bat first, or what. It’s a good thing it didn’t hit him square and kept going to the backstop.”
Johnny Hellweg (1-5) pitched well for the Manatees, allowing two hits in five innings of work. His only issue for much of the night was his control. He walked six batters and struck out two. “He’s healthy,” said Ayrault of Hellweg. “He’s starting to run the ball up there with his velo, just needs to put the hammer down on his command and he’ll be good to go.”
When asked about the walks, Ayrault stressed that Hellweg is still coming back from Tommy John surgery. “He’s still rehabbing and getting a feel back for it,” he said. Hellweg worked in and out of trouble for much of the first four innings, but it was the fifth that Daytona finally cashed in. Carlton Daal singled to start the inning and went to second on a wild pickoff attempt by Hellweg that first baseman Garrett Cooper attempted to save, but was unsuccessful. Sebastian Elizalde grounded out, moving Daal to third. Hellweg had Phillip Ervin at the plate, in a 2-2 count, but field umpire Matt Winter called a balk, scoring Daal with the first run.
Daytona (30-17, 67-50) scored three more runs in the eighth inning against Javi Salas, who was making a rare appearance out of the bullpen. Ty Washington hit a one out double and scored on an RBI single by Brian O’Grady. Wendell Soto followed with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. Daal hit into a fielders’ choice, resulting in an out at home, moving Soto to third. Salas looked like he was going to be out of the inning when Elizalde hit a fly ball to right. Jose Pena was there, but misplayed the ball into a two-base error, allowing both runs to score and boosting their lead to 4-0.
For more info: Daytona @ Brevard County boxscore
The series continues Monday night, when the two teams play a doubleheader at Daytona. Game one is scheduled to start at 5:05 p.m. The Manatees (20-27, 49-67) will send Jorge Ortega (8-8, 2.62 ERA) to the mound in game one. He will be opposed by Jackson Stephens (12-5, 2.84 ERA).
Brandon Woodruff (2-5, 4.03 ERA) is the scheduled starter in game two for the Manatees. Seth Varner 1-4, 4.32 ERA) gets the call for the Tortugas.