Eighth envelops Daytona in 5-1 loss to St. Lucie

Javi Rivera tosses 5.0 innings of two-hit ball, lowering ERA to 1.86 since start of June

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — RHP Javi Rivera continued his dazzling first professional season, allowing one run on two hits over a career-high-tying five innings. However, the bottom of the eighth subdued Daytona for the second-straight night, as the St. Lucie Mets put up four in the frame to top the Tortugas, 5-1, on Wednesday night at Clover Park.

For the second-straight day, Daytona (9-21, 38-57) jumped out to an early lead. CF Ashton Creal (0-3, BB, SO) started the game with a walk but was quickly erased on a fielder’s choice. After a two-base throwing error and a walk loaded the bags, 1B Yassel Pino (0-3, RBI, BB) worked a five-pitch free pass to chase home a run, giving the Tortugas a 1-0 advantage.

That was all Daytona could muster in the first, though. St. Lucie (17-15, 57-40) produced a swinging strikeout and a fielder’s choice ground ball to third to quell the threat, keeping their deficit at one.

The Tortugas would not accrue much more offensively from that point on. Daytona put men at second and third in the third inning on a C Hayden Jones (1-4, SO) single, a walk to RF-LF Wendell Marrero (0-2, 2 BB, SO), and a ground out, but could not deliver. They would not put another man into scoring position for the rest of the game.

After Daytona missed an opportunity in the top of the inning, St. Lucie drew even in the bottom half. 3B William Lugo (1-3, R, BB, 2 SO) dunked a two-out single over the first baseman’s head and into shallow right field before scooting to second on a wild pitch. SS Junior Tilien (1-3, R, RBI, BB, 2 SO) chased home the runner with a single to left, knotting the game at one.

It remained even until the Mets’ offense erupted in the eighth. C Brady Smith (1-3, R, 2B) ignited the rally with a leadoff double into the left-field corner and quickly crossed the dish to put St. Lucie in front, 2-1, on a single up the middle by CF Omar De Los Santos (1-4, R, RBI).

From there, the Mets would load the bases. After a strikeout and a steal of second, a couple of walks and a wild pitch filled the bags for St. Lucie’s newest roster member, pinch-hitter Karell Paz (1-1, 3B, 3 RBI).

Behind in the count 1-2, the switch-hitter — batting from the left-hand side — golfed a ball over the right fielder’s head and all the way to the fence. All three runners dented the dish, as Paz motored to third with a triple, ballooning the Mets’ lead to four, 5-1.

That was more than enough for St. Lucie’s RHP Joel Díaz (6.0 IP, H, BB, 6 SO). The 18-year-old permitted a two-out free pass in the ninth, but that was all.

Díaz allowed just two baserunners — a single to LF Luis Chevalier (1-3, SO) and the walk in the final frame — over a career-high six innings. For his efforts, the right-hander was awarded his first victory of the year.

Neither starter received a decision on Wednesday. Rivera (5.0 IP, 2 H, R, ER, BB, 6 SO) was outstanding for Daytona, matching a career-high in innings pitched (5.0) and lowering his ERA to 1.86 (8 ER in 38.2 IP) since the beginning of June. RHP Calvin Ziegler (0.2 IP, R, 3 BB, SO) was unable to escape the first for St. Lucie due to pitch count.

RHP Brett Lockwood (0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) was saddled with his second loss of the year in relief for the Tortugas.

The Tortugas will try to snap their 10-game road losing streak to St. Lucie on Thursday. RHP Sam Benschoter (2-3, 4.35) is scheduled to make his second start since being reinstated off the injured list for Daytona. St. Lucie has not announced a probable starter yet. 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.

The Tortugas will return to Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Tuesday, August 9, to open up a two-week homestand with six games against the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Florida State League affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The series opens with another Shell Yeah Cookout. The $15 add-on includes the full “Bases Loaded” menu during a 90-minute buffet with hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork, baked beans, cookies, Pepsi products, and more. It is also a Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Radiology Associates Imaging. The Tortugas will don unique 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. Silver Sluggers Night presented by Conviva is a part of the festivities. The exclusive 60-and-older club features deals at the team store, concession stands for members, and more. The series opener also marks a Taco Tuesday with options at the concession stands starting at just $3.

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.

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.