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Daytona rallies late to snatch 3-2 victory from St. Lucie

Gus Steiger's go-ahead, pinch-hit RBI single in ninth the difference, as 'Tugas snap slide
RHP Ryan Cardona twirled a season-high three shutout innings in relief, ultimately earning the win, as the Daytona Tortugas rallied late to defeat the St. Lucie Mets, 3-2, on Thursday night at Clover Park. (Aldrin Capulong)
April 28, 2022

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Despite trailing through the first five frames and being one-hit into the ninth inning, the Tortugas' confidence never wavered. Daytona tied it in the sixth and took the lead for good on Gus Steiger's pinch-hit RBI infield single in the top of the ninth, as

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Despite trailing through the first five frames and being one-hit into the ninth inning, the Tortugas' confidence never wavered. Daytona tied it in the sixth and took the lead for good on Gus Steiger's pinch-hit RBI infield single in the top of the ninth, as the Tortugas stole a 3-2 victory from the St. Lucie Mets on Thursday night at Clover Park.

Trailing 2-0 entering the fifth, Daytona (9-9) managed to earn their first run without a hit. DH Hayden Jones (0-2, R, BB, SO) coaxed a leadoff walk and reached second base on an errant pickoff throw. After taking third on a wild pitch, RF Danny Lantigua (0-4, RBI, 2 SO) brought Jones home with a ground out to short.

An inning later, the Tortugas evened the score, once more without collecting a knock. CF Austin Hendrick (1-3, 2 R, BB, 2 SO) collected a free pass with one out and promptly stole second base. Following a wild offering that allowed him to take third, a two-out offering to 1B-3B Michel Triana (0-5, SO) skipped in the dirt. The ball ricocheted off the catcher's equipment and bounced into the air. While the catcher attempted to locate the ball, Hendrick made a beeline for the plate and slid in feet first ahead of a throw. The passed ball permitted Daytona to tie it at two.

In the ninth, it was the 20-year-old at the forefront of another rally. Hendrick started the ninth with a line-drive single to right and was able to move to second when LF Jamal O'Guinn (1-3) was drilled with a 1-2 breaking ball. A sacrifice bunt by Triana advanced the men to second and third before pinch-hitter Ruben Ibarra (0-0, BB) was given first base on an intentional walk to load the bags.

Steiger (1-1, RBI) was called upon off the bench to hit with the sacks saturated and one out. Daytona's leader in batting average with runners in scoring position came through once more when he chopped a hard grounder to third. The leather glanced off the edge of the third baseman's glove and behind him for a single. Everyone was safe, as the Tortugas snared the lead for the first time, 3-2.

RHP Owen Holt (1.0 IP, H) entered in the bottom half of the inning and slammed the door shut. The recently turned 23-year-old worked around a one-out single to induce three lazy fly balls to secure the victory and the first save of his professional career.

St. Lucie (11-7) jumped in front for the second-straight game in the second. Following a C Raul Beracierta (2-4, R, SO) single to center with two outs, SS Kevin Villavicencio (0-4) hit a soft grounder to third. The throw was made across the diamond, but the ball was dropped at first. As Beracierta broke to third, another toss across the diamond was misplayed. The second error on the play allowed the lead runner to cross and put the Mets up 1-0.

In the fourth, LF Carlos Dominguez (1-4, R, HR, RBI, SO) banged the first delivery of the inning off the second level of advertisements beyond the left-field wall for a solo home run. The 22-year-old's second home run of the series and fifth of the year extended St. Lucie's lead to 2-0.

Neither starter received a decision on Thursday. Tortugas RHP Julian Aguiar (4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, ER, 6 SO) permitted only one earned run and struck out six, while the Mets RHP Mike Vasil (6.0 IP, H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 SO) was charged with two unearned tallies in a career-high six innings.

RHP Ryan Cardona (3.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 3 SO) was stellar in relief for Daytona. The 2021 19th-round pick posted a season-long three shutout frames to earn his second win of the year. RHP Luis Mey (1.0 IP, BB, 3 SO) struck out the side in the fifth in his lone inning of work.

LHP Nathan Lavender (1.0 IP, 2 H, R, ER, BB, 2 SO) yielded the go-ahead run in the ninth and suffered his first defeat for the Mets.

The Tortugas will look to even the series on Friday. RHP Alex Johnson (1-0, 2.70) is anticipated to make his second start of the year. The Mets are scheduled to counter with 2021 second-round pick RHP Calvin Ziegler (0-1, 4.35). Coverage on the Tortugas Radio Network will begin on the MiLB First Pitch app and www.daytonatortugas.com at 5:55 p.m. leading up to the 6:10 p.m. first pitch from Clover Park.

After the six-game road swing, the Tortugas will return to Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Tuesday, May 3, to open up a series against the Jupiter Hammerheads, the Florida State League affiliate of the Miami Marlins. It will be a Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Radiology Associates Imaging. The Tortugas will don special pink-clad uniforms that will be auctioned off at the end of the season with all proceeds to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. It is also a Silver Sluggers Night by Labcorp, featuring special team store, concession stand deals for members, and more. The series opener features Taco Tuesday with options at the concession stands starting at just $3.

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.