The Brevard County Manatees traveled to Tampa Saturday for a doubleheader in Tampa, after an off-day Friday. The visitors pounded out 12 hits in game one and earned a much-needed 7-4 victory. The Yankees came in as one of the top hitting teams in the league, but the Manatees, who are 11th in the 12 team Florida State League in offense, were able to put a few productive innings together.
Brevard County (5-17) jumped out to an early lead against the T-Yanks, coming up with three runs in the third inning. Jose Cuas led off with a single and went to second on an errant pickoff throw. Brandon Diaz chased him home with an RBI double, making it 1-0. Johnny Davis followed with a bunt single, fielded by pitcher Ian Clarkin, who threw high and Davis eluded the tag at first. With runners at the corners, Angel Ortega grounded into a double play, getting Diaz home with the second run.
Clint Coulter capped the inning with a home run over the left field wall. It was his first of the year and one that will hopefully jumpstart him offensively. George Iskenderian and Dustin DeMuth had back-to-back singles in the inning, but the Manatees were not able to add to the lead. They sent eight batters to the plate and got six hits in the frame.
The Manatees struck again in the fourth, plating two more runs. With one out, Cuas singled and stole second. Diaz earned a walk after a nine-pitch battle with Clarkin. Davis singled to load the bases and Cuas came home moments later on a wild pitch, stretching the lead to 4-0. An RBI single for Ortega plated the fifth run and earned the Manatees their 10th hit in four innings. Clarkin didn’t make it out of the fourth. He was credited with 3.2 innings, allowing five runs on 10 hits. He walked one and struck out two, with all the runs against him earned. Jordan Foley came on in relief after Clarkin threw 70 pitches, 49 for strikes.
Kodi Medeiros (2-3) cruised through the first four innings for the Manatees, before finding trouble in the fifth, not all his doing. Michael O’Neill reached on a swinging bunt. Vicente Conde laced a single down the first base line, putting runners at first and third. After Cuas made a diving catch on a ball hit by Jake Skole, Jorge Mateo reached on an error by DeMuth at first. He bobbled the ball, but would’ve had a tough play anyway, a tough error but one that could have gone either way. O’Neill scored on the play, making it 5-1. One out later, Billy Fleming’s 2-run double made it 5-3. Miguel Andujar followed with an RBI single and just like that, the Yankees were within a run, 5-4.
Medeiros got Santiago Nessy to line out, ending the inning. It was the last inning for the Manatees’ starter who went five innings, giving up four runs (one earned) on six hits. He struck out three and walked one during the 80 pitch performance. He threw 49 strikes. Jon Olczak came on in relief. The ‘Tees offense added a couple insurance runs in the sixth inning. Diaz drew a walk and went to second on a wild pitch. Davis was credited with an infield hit after the ball was bobbled by Andujar at third. A wild pitch by Foley moved the runners to second and third. Ortega struck out and that was the end of the night for Foley.
Dillon McNamara came on in relief and struck out Coulter for the second out. Tampa was one out away from escaping a second and third jam and Iskenderian had other plans. He ripped the first pitch back through the middle, chasing Diaz and Davis home and giving the Manatees a 7-4 lead. Those runs were big, as this was a seven inning affair. Olczak retired the Yankees in the seventh and picked up his first save of the season.
For more info: Brevard County @ Tampa boxscore (game 1)
Davis led the way for the Manatees offensively, with his 3-for-4 night. Coulter, Iskenderian and Cuas all went 2-for-4. It was a much-needed offensive outburst for the Manatees, who came into the game hitting .219 as a team. The 12 hits helped raise that average to .226 after game one. Tampa had seven hits in the contest, but no starter had more than one hit. They fell to 14-8 with the loss.