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Tortugas hang on to beat Mighty Mussels, 5-4, in afternoon contest

By Staff | Jul 10, 2024

FORT MYERS – The Daytona Tortugas took a 2-0 series lead with a 5-4 win over the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels Wednesday afternoon at Hammond Stadium.

The Tortugas (41-41, 10-6) led wire to wire to get to the .500 mark for the first time since May 18. Fort Myers (42-39, 11-5) saw multiple late rallies fall short as the team closed the deficit to one run in the eighth inning.

In the top of the first, the Tortugas’ Ricardo Cabrera walked before a Sammy Stafura single set up first and second. The next batter was Ariel Almonte, who lifted a fly ball to right field. Carlos Aguiar made the catch but his throw to third was up the line, allowing Cabrera to score from second and put Daytona ahead 1-0.

In the second inning, Esmith Pineda connected on a leadoff double off of Mussels’ starter Ricky Castro (3-2). The next two Tortugas executed a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Later in the inning, Yerlin Confidan slapped a double to left center to make it 3-0.

In the bottom of the frame, the Mussels’ Nick Lucky tripled to left-center with one out for the first Fort Myers’ hit of the game. He then scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.

In the bottom of the third, the game went into a 1-hour and 17-minute rain delay with the Mussels having the tying run on first with two outs. Following the delay, Drew Pestka needed just one pitch to retire the side and escape the jam.

The Tortugas continued to execute small ball in the fourth, as second baseman Johnny Ascanio laid down an RBI sacrifice bunt to make it 4-1. Daytona added a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Ascanio to extend the lead to 5-1.

Paulshawn Pasqualotto was solid in relief, tossing four innings of two run ball while striking out five. Xander Hamilton covered the final two frames and struck out three, with his lone base runner coming on an infield single.

Still down 5-1 in the seventh, the Mussels’ Byron Chourio worked a walk. Poncho Ruiz then reached on an error to put two on. Daniel Pena followed with a two-run single to left to make it a 5-3 game.

Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Matthew Clayton was hit by a pitch before Ryan McCarthy followed with an opposite field double to set up second and third. Clayton then scored on an error to make it 5-4 before McCarthy was picked off at second to silence the threat.

The Mussels put the leadoff man and tying run on base to open the ninth but failed to move the runner past first as Cody Adcock picked up his fifth save of the season.

The teams combined to go 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position and made five total errors on the day.

The Mussels return to action on Thursday, July 11, at 7:05 p.m. Ross Dunn (1-2, 5.92) starts for Fort Myers, opposite Ben Brutti (0-2, 3.14) of Daytona. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.