The Brevard County Manatees were hoping a return to Space Coast Stadium on Tuesday, would be the turning point for what was a 1-7 road trip. Unfortunately, the ‘Tees offensive struggles continued in a 3-0 loss to the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Offensively, Brevard County (3-16) managed just four hits in the game, but did hit some balls hard. Starting pitcher Eric Hanhold (0-3) was plagued by a high pitch count early, forcing him out of the game after four innings. He threw 83 pitches, 50 for strikes.
“It wasn’t Hanhold’s usual outing,” said Manatees manager Joe Ayrault. “Usually, he’s getting ahead and tonight he had to work himself out of some jams, working behind and walking a couple guys, that’s what happens.” Ayrault was not overly concerned with the amount of pitches his starters are throwing early, repeating something he said last week about the starters being on a pitch count until June. He expanded a bit on that after the game on Tuesday. “We need to attack hitters and fill the zone and being more efficient, so you can work deeper into ballgames,” he said. A few of our guys have done a good job of that.”
Hanhold got through the first couple innings okay, but in the third trouble found him… quickly. Zach Shepherd led off with a double and Casey Frawley and Wade Hinkle followed with back-to-back knocks. Hinkle’s drove Shepherd home with the first run of the night. Ross Kivett drew a walk to load the bases and after striking out the next batter, Hanhold surrendered an RBI single to Mike Gerber, giving Lakeland a 2-0 lead. Hanhold battled back to strike out Christin Stewart and got Kade Scivicque to fly out, avoiding what could have been a disastrous inning.
Lakeland (9-10) would load the bases again in the fourth with one out, taking advantage of an error and two singles. Hanhold did a great job getting out of that unscathed, striking out Kivett and A. J. Simcox. “He kept us in it at least, to give us a chance,” said Ayrault of his hurler. The Flying Tigers threatened again in the eighth against reliever Junior Rincon, but the defense stepped up for the Manatees. A single and two walks loaded the bases, before Rincon came back to strike out Casey Frawley looking. Hinkle came up and hit a ball hard on the ground to first that Dustin DeMuth fielded, stepped on the bag and threw home where Dustin Houle applied the tag to Scivicque at home, completing the double play.
Despite the lack of offense for the Manatees they did have a couple chances in the game, but double plays in the fourth and seventh innings, short-circuited those innings. With Tuesday’s loss, the Manatees team batting average is holding at .215. Angel Ortega went 1-for-4 and is leading the team with a .348 average. He had the teams’ only extra-base hit, a double in the opening frame, against Lakeland starter A.J. Ladwig (4-0).
For more info: Lakeland @ Brevard County boxscore
When asked what needed to be done to help the offensive woes, Ayrault said “One of the big things is getting a good pitch and hitting it and not thinking too much. Trust what you’re doing in the cage and take that into the game with you. “We’ve struggled with runners in scoring position,” he continued. “We need to do a better job of getting a good pitch to hit and doing the little things.”
They will get a chance to do that on Wednesday in game two of the series. Bubba Derby (1-0, 1.42 ERA) will toe the rubber for Brevard County, against Jeff Thompson. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.