The Brevard County Manatees lost their fifth straight game Saturday night, a 3-2 squeaker to the St. Lucie Mets at Space Coast Stadium. It was another game of missed opportunities for Brevard County, but the effort was certainly there.
Bubba Derby got the start on the mound for the Manatees and was greeted rather rudely by Mets’ leadoff man, Champ Stuart. After taking the first pitch for a strike, Stuart took the next offering deep over the right centerfield wall. One out later, Amed Rosario stung a ball to center that was just out of the reach of a diving Johnny Davis. The ball rolled to the wall and Rosario ended up at third. Derby, making just his second start for the ‘Tees, was not rattled. He came back to strike out Michael Katz and after walking John Mora, got Tomas Nido to fly out. Considering all the traffic, allowing just the one run was not a bad result. “He had good stuff,” said Manatees’ manager Joe Ayrault when asked about Derby. “He had a good outing in Fort Myers against a good club.”
Unfortunately, Derby lasted just three innings on Saturday, throwing 72 pitches, 42 for strikes. “Kinda short,” said Ayrault of the outing. “Until about June 1, then we’ll start stretching them out a little bit. That’s way too many pitches for three innings, he’s gotta be more efficient with his pitches, so he can work deeper in the ballgame.”
Offensively, the Manatees answered in the bottom of the first. Davis led off with a single, against Sat. Lucie starter Ricky Knapp. Angel Ortega moved him to third with a single of his own. Davis came home on a grounder hit by Dustin DeMuth, that the Mets were able to turn into a double play. That tied the game 1-1, heading to the second. Derby gave up a two out single to Patrick Biondi, who stole second. After a walk to Stuart, Luis Guillorme was called out on strikes, ending the threat.
Brevard County (2-8) would take their only lead of the game in the bottom of the inning, when George Iskenderian sent one over the right field wall. “He’s been swinging the bat,” said Ayrault. “A lot of his balls have been going to right field and he’s got a great middle to opposite field approach, so he hits the ball deep to right with the wind howling out there, he got behind it and crushed it.”
The Manatees would hold the lead until the fifth inning, when The Mets got to reliever Zach Hirsch. Guillorme led off with a single and went to third on a double by Rosario. Katz then hit one to center that Johnny Davis tracked down, up against the wall. The ball was deep enough to score the tying run and move Rosario to third. One out later, Nido laced a ball to second that Iskenderian fielded, but with Nido’s speed, he beat the play at first, allowing Rosario to score, making it 3-2. Davis saved at least another run on a line drive hit to center by Phillip Evans, that he jumped up and caught, ending the inning.
Hirsch (0-2) would work four innings, allowing two runs on three hits, walking one and striking out three. He threw 58 pitches, 32 for strikes and was tagged with the loss. Junior Rincon threw an inning each, to finish the game for Brevard County. The Manatees’ pitchers were finished, but the offense was not. They went down swinging in the ninth, against Mets closer Corey Taylor. Omar Garcia, who was inserted in right field in the fourth inning, singled to start the ninth. He moved to second on a sac bunt by Dustin Houle. Iskenderian hit a rocket back to the mound that Taylor deflected, putting runners at the corners with one out.
Taylor Brennan who had a hit and two walks in the ballgame came up with a chance to tie, but Taylor threw him a good sequence and struck him out. Jose Cuas was the Manatees last hope and he popped out to second to end the game. “Gave us a chance,” said Ayrault of the ninth inning. “Nice to see Omar lead it off… great bunt by Houle and Iskenderian legging it out gave us an opportunity to at least tie that ballgame with runners at the corners. Just have to come through with those big knocks.”
Those big knocks just weren’t there. DeMuth, who hit into the double play to score the first run, hit into more bad luck in the third, when he hit a rope to Rosario at third that turned into another double play. “He’s gotta keep grinding,” said Ayrault. Quality AB’s, get your pitch and drive it.” That kind of luck, coupled with 12 strikeouts by Mets’ pitching, had Brevard County scratching and clawing the entire game.
For more info: St. Lucie Mets @ Brevard County Manatees boxscore
These two teams will be back at it Sunday, in game three of a four game series. Brandon Woodruff (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will face Scarlyn Reyes (0-1, 5.06 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Tradition Field in St. Lucie.