PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — After watching an early three-run lead evaporate, Daytona did not bow their heads. Instead, they responded with authority. Thanks to six runs in the top of the ninth and a multi-home run performance by DH Rece Hinds, the Tortugas held their ground and defeated the St. Lucie Mets, 9-6, on Sunday afternoon at Clover Park.
Daytona (50-52) jumped out to a lead in the third thanks to the long ball. C Daniel Vellojín (1-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB) started the frame with a walk and, on the first pitch he saw, Hinds (2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB) pummeled a drive off the batter's eye in straightaway center field for a two-run home run. The 20-year-old's sixth homer with the Tortugas staked the visitors to a preliminary 2-0 lead.
After a ground out and strikeout, it was SS José Torres' (1-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB) turn. On the first offering, the 2021 third-round pick sent a laser onto the boardwalk beyond the left-field wall. Torres' third professional home run — and second with Daytona — padded the initial advantage to 3-0.
St. Lucie (52-47) got a run back after the 'Tugas went to the bullpen in the sixth. RF Alexander Ramírez (2-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB) started the rally with a double and advanced to third on a fielding error. 1B JT Schwartz (2-4, 3 RBI) lifted a sacrifice fly to left to draw the Mets within two, 3-1.
However, the onslaught in that frame was quelled as the runner from first was thrown out trying to tag and advance to second on the play by LF Garrett Wolforth.
In the eighth, the Mets finally got even. SS Kevin Kendall (1-4, 2 R, BB) collected a leadoff single and moved to second on a ground out. Following a hit-by-pitch, Schwartz ripped a single to center to cut St. Lucie's deficit to one, 3-2.
A wild pitch allowed the tying run to advance to third and the go-ahead run to take second for 2B Justin Guerrera (0-4, RBI, SO). On a 3-2 pitch, the Mets' 20th-round selection sent a fly ball to deep left. Wolforth tracked it down, but LF Brandon McIlwain (2-4, R, RBI) tapped home on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at three.
However, the contest would not stay tied long. In the top of the ninth, Torres drew a leadoff walk and — following a punch out — quickly scored from first on a double down the right-field line by RF Danny Lantigua (2-4, R, 2B, RBI, SO).
That was the beginning of an extra-base hit barrage by the Tortugas offense. 2B Brandon Leyton (1-3, R, 2B, RBI, BB), CF Justice Thompson (1-4, R, 2B, RBI, SO), and Vellojín each followed with run-producing two-baggers of their own to propel Daytona ahead by four, 7-3.
Hinds put the capper on the six-run frame with one more colossal blow. The Sarasota, Fla. native punished an 0-1 pitch to left that departed Clover Park on a bounce for another two-run shot. Hinds' second home run of the day, and seventh with the Tortugas, cushioned Daytona's lead to six, 9-3.
Much like the 'Tugas, St. Lucie would not go quietly. The Mets would bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth after scoring three runs on singles from Ramírez and McIlwain, plus an RBI ground out from Schwartz.
With men at second and third and two out, Guerrera — the tying run — jumped ahead of RHP Anthony Zimmerman (1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB) with a 3-0 count. The Fordham University alum did not waver and watched the second baseman poke the next pitch out to center field. The ball had some carry, but not nearly enough to leave the yard, as Thompson ran it down in front of the warning track to seal Daytona's three-run win.
It was a tough-luck no-decision for Tortugas RHP James Marinan (5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 SO) on Sunday. The 22-year-old recorded one his best starts of the season, twirling a season-high-tying 5.0 shutout innings. Zimmerman collected the final four outs of the game to earn his second victory.
St. Lucie gave the ball to two Major League rehabbers to start the day. RHP Sean Reid Foley (1.0 IP, 2 BB) worked around two walks in the first, while RHP Stephen Nogosek (1.0 IP, H) yielded a single to Wolforth (1-4, 2 SO) in the second.
RHP Kolby Kubichek (2.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, BB, SO) — who had thrown 2.0 scoreless innings on the day entering the ninth — was taxed for all six runs in the final frame and suffered his second professional defeat.
Following Monday's league-wide off day, the Tortugas will return home to open up their final homestand of the season on Tuesday, August 31, against the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, the Low-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. It will be a Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Radiology Associates Imaging, as Daytona players and coaches will don special pink-tinted uniforms to mark the occasion. Silver Sluggers Night — the best club in baseball for fans 60-and-over — presented by Conviva Cares Solutions will also be a part of the festivities. Fans can get in on deals at the concession stand with $2.50 Michelob Ultra draft beers. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Neither team has announced probable starting pitchers for the series opener. Coverage on the Tortugas Radio Network will begin on the MiLB First Pitch app and www.daytonatortugas.com at 6:50 p.m. leading up to the 7:05 p.m. first pitch from Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
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 Low-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of Minor League Baseball’s Low-A Southeast. The Tortugas play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in downtown Daytona Beach. 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.