DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In a topsy turvy affair, it was Daytona who would emerge victorious. DH Ruben Ibarra and CF Jay Allen II set or tied a career-high in hits, while C Wilfred Astudillo posted a career-best four RBI in the Tortugas' 10-6 triumph over the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels in front of 1,688 fans at Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Thursday night.
Tied at two through three, the Tortugas (21-32) hung a crooked number to take the lead in the fourth. Ibarra (3-4, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI) scalded the first pitch of the frame into right-center for a double and advanced to third on an infield single by 2B Tyler Callihan (2-4, 2 R, 2B). 1B Jack Rogers (1-4, R, RBI, SO) sent a soft tapper up the third-base line that stayed fair. When the ball was fielded, there was no play at any base on the diamond. Ibarra scored on the knock to put Daytona in front, 3-2.
Following a sacrifice bunt, Astudillo (2-4, 2 2B, 4 RBI) came through for the first time. On a 1-2 pitch, the switch-hitter slapped a rocket into left-center field for an extra-base hit. Callihan and Rogers came home, as Astudillo halted at second with a double, extending the 'Tugas lead to three, 5-2.
However, the lead did not last. With a man at first and two out, C Noah Cardenas (1-3, R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, SO) powered a ball down the left-field line. Rucker raced around to score from first and, while the tag may have beat the runner to the plate, the glove did not squeeze it on the slide. The leather squirted loose, as Cardenas took third on the throw home, pulling the Mighty Mussels within a pair, 5-3.
After a wild pitch enabled Cardenas to score, pulling Fort Myers within one, a bevy of free passes tied the game. A walk, back-to-back hit-by-pitches, and a free pass to RF Nelson Roberto (0-4, RBI, BB, 2 SO) with the bases full chased home the tying run, knotting the game at five.
Once more, the score did not stay stationary for long. SS Steven Leyton (2-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI) punched the first offering of the inning down the line in left for a double and, on a 1-1 count, LF Jamal O'Guinn (1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 SO) provided the lead.
On a 1-1 pitch, the Fresno, Calif. native rifled a delivery into the auxiliary parking lot beyond the right-field fence for his first career home run. O'Guinn's two-run shot put the Tortugas back in charge, 7-5.
The rally would not subside there. Callihan unloaded a double down the line in right and, two batters later, 3B Ilvin Fernández (0-2, R, BB) coaxed a walk. Astudillo then punished the first pitch he saw into the right-field corner. Both runners raced around to dent the dish, pushing Daytona's cushion to four, 9-5.
The 'Tugas collected an insurance run in the sixth. Allen slapped a single to center and proceeded to swipe second and third base. Ibarra brought him home with two outs, lifting a run-producing double into left-center.
Fort Myers mustered one last rally in the eighth. PH-CF Carlos Aguiar (1-1, R, 3B) tripled into the gap in left-center on the first pitch he saw after being added to the team roster earlier in the day and crossed on a passed ball two batters later.
With the game now 10-6, DH Mikey Perez (1-4) was plunked and Cardenas earned a walk, forcing the Tortugas to make a call to the bullpen.
Entering with the tying run on-deck, RHP Dennis Boatman (1.1 IP, 3 SO) slammed the door shut. After inducing a ground out to the mound to halt the eight-inning rally, the Roseville, Calif. resident struck out the side in order in the ninth to close out the win and his team-leading fifth save.
Fort Myers jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage in the first on a pair of errors, while Daytona scored a pair in their half of the inning — on a Leyton double and an Ibarra single — to take a 2-1 lead. The Mussels tied it in the third on a single by SS Noah Miller (1-5, RBI, SO).
Neither starter received a decision on Thursday. RHP Chase Petty (3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) fell one strikeout shy of matching a career-best over 3.2 innings for Daytona. LHP Jason Carr (4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 SO) surrendered five runs over four frames in his Mighty Mussels' debut.
Tortugas RHP Arij Fransen (2.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 SO) permitted three unearned runs en route to his second win of the campaign out of the bullpen. RHP Juan Mendez (1.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, BB, SO) was saddled with his second defeat of the campaign for Fort Myers.
‘The Nine’ Night returns as the series continues on Friday. The Tortugas will pay homage as part of Minor League Baseball’s focused outreach platform specifically designed to honor and celebrate the historic impact numerous Black baseball pioneers made on the sport. As part of the celebration, the franchise will honor African-American pitcher Johnny Wright who was a teammate of Jackie Robinson’s at City Island Ballpark during spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers in March 1946. The first 1,000 fans through the gates that night will receive a limited edition No. 12 Johnny Wright T-Shirt and Tortugas’ players and coaches will don Specialty Uniforms to pay homage, which will be auctioned off during the season. Friday Night Happy Hour comes back to the ballpark, as well, with special discounts on select draft beers at the concession stands. Prior to the first pitch, fans will also be able to enjoy Live Music from Mike & Vin on the third-base riverwalk. Fans are encouraged to stick around after the final out for another fabulous postgame First Firework Friday display.
The Tortugas will look to make it two-straight, as RHP Reynardo Cruz (0-3, 6.23) is expected to toe the slab. RHP Travis Adams (4-1, 2.25) projects to take the hill for the Mighty Mussels. 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.
Season tickets, 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 Single-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of Minor League Baseball’s Florida State League. The Tortugas play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in downtown Daytona Beach, Fla. 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.