The Brevard County Manatees deserved a better fate Wednesday at home, against the Lakeland Flying Tigers. The ‘Tees came up on the short end of a see-saw game against the Flying Tigers, with the visitors pulling out a 7-6 win in 10 innings.
Lakeland (10-10) got to Manatees’ starter Bubba Derby early, with two singles in the first inning by Ross Kivett and Mike Gerber. There was an error on the Gerber single, allowing both runners to move up. The error proved insignificant, because Christin Stewart would follow with his Florida State League leading seventh home run of the season. He belted it deep to right and the only question was, would it stay fair? The answer, unfortunately for Derby and the Manatees, was yes. The ball hit off the foul pole and just like that, it was 3-0.
Brevard County looked poised to do some damage in the bottom of the inning when Johnny Davis walked and Angel Ortega singled through the right side. Davis stopped at second, but could’ve easily made it to third on the play. He just didn’t seem to get a good read. “He didn’t realize the ball was hit,” said Manatees manager Joe Ayrault. Would’ve set up a big first inning.”
Clint Coulter, who had two hits on Wednesday, followed Ortega with a hard line drive that first baseman Wade Hinkle snared. The inning ended shortly thereafter, when George Iskenderian hit into a double play. Despite the missed opportunity in the first, the Manatees came right back in the second inning and put one of their best innings in quite some time together. With one out Dustin Houle reached on an error. Taylor Brennan singled, putting runners at first and second. A walk to Brandon Diaz loaded the bases. A Johnny Davis two-run single made it 3-2. Angel Ortega then smacked an RBI single to right, scoring Diaz and tying the game. The big blow came off the bat of Coulter, who hit a long ball to right, that went off the glove of Gerber and scored Davis and Ortega.
“That was a big inning for us,” said Ayrault. All five runs scored with two outs, you like to see that.” All five runs were unearned against Lakeland starter Jeff Thompson, due to the early error. He lasted just two innings — giving up five hits, walking two and striking out one. Definitely a tough outing for him, not all his own doing.
Derby would give up home run to Joey Pankake to start the fourth, closing the gap to 5-4 and then he would be bitten by his defense in the fifth inning. After walking Kivett, Derby got A.J. Simcox to ground the ball to Ortega at short. He shuffled the ball to Iskenderian at second, who lost the handle. Instead of what looked to be an easy double play, there were now runners at first and second. Ayrault had to pull Derby at that point, because his pitch count had reached 85 (53 strikes). “He’s done a nice job all season — pitched well,” said Ayrault of Derby. “Giving up those home runs was tough, gotta get after it.”
Josh Uhen was called on to get out of the jam and he threw a wild pitch, moving both runners up. The Manatees traded a run for an out when Gerber grounded to Iskenderian and Uhen would then be victimized by his defense one out later when Iskenderian threw one away, allowing Simcox to score the lead run.
The Manatees threatened in the fifth, but came up empty and had another chance in the seventh when Davis hit a two-out triple. Neither of those opportunities resulted in a run, but the home team finally broke through in the ninth, against Adam Ravenelle. Taylor Brennan walked and stole second, before Ravenelle came back and struck out the next two hitters. Davis was the last hope for the Manatees and he came through with a high chopper between first and second, scoring Brennan and tying the game, 6-6. “A big at bat by Davis,” Ayrault said. “It was good to see our guys, especially with two outs come up big. All six runs tonight with two outs, it’s good to see that.”
Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived as Kivett came through with an RBI single in the top of the 10th, against reliever Tyler Spurlin (0-1), who came in to record the final out in the eighth inning. Ravenelle stayed on to pitch the 10th and he retired the Manatees in order, helping the Flying Tigers reach .500 on the season.
For more info: Lakeland @ Brevard County boxscore
The run in the 10th was the only one allowed by the Manatees bullpen in six innings of work. Ayrault was happy with the job they did. Offensively, the Manatees got multi-hit games from Davis 3-for-5, three RBIs), Ortega 2-for-5, one RBI), Coulter (2-for-6, two RBIs), Dustin DeMuth (2-for-5) and Taylor Brennan (2-for-4 with two runs scored).
Brevard County will look to salvage the final game of this series on Thursday, when they send Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 1.71 ERA) to the mound against Endrys Briceno (0-2, 7.36). First pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m.