TigsTown MLN: LFT Flying Steady

The Flying Tigers went 3-3 on the week, changing their overall record to 30-28 while remaining in fourth place in the FSL West.

Pitcher Duane Below started off the week by shutting out Tampa 4-0. Below pitched seven innings while giving up only two hits and zero runs. Former Lakeland Tiger Kevin Whelan pitched two innings for Tampa, surrendering two of the Flying Tigers four total runs. Whelan, who was included in the trade for Gary Sheffield, seemed to struggle with controlling his pitches, as many of them ended up short of the plate or past the catcher. Leading Lakeland was Jeff Kunkel who batted 2-3 with a double.

Lakeland fell 5-4 the next night, losing the series in the process. Jonah Nickerson pitched 5 and 2/3 innings while giving up only one earned runs but a total of four runs. The game was tied until the ninth inning, when Flying Tigers pitcher Nick Martin gave up one run for the loss. On the offensive side, Cale Iorg hit a home run for a total of three RBIs.

The team would then travel to Dunedin where they would explode on offense for the next two games, winning 11-5 and 10-7 respectively. Starters Matt O'Brien and Ramon Garcia were credited with the wins. Only one Flying Tiger homered in the first game (Brennan Boesch), but Jeramy Laster, Luis Ott, Cale Iorg, and Pedro Cotto all hit home runs in the second game. Those in attendance claim that the wind took Cotto's hit, but it still counts for his first career home run (Pedro was signed in September of 2001).

Characteristic of his early starts of the season, top prospect Rick Porcello was provided with no run support in the Flying Tigers next game. Porcello pitched poorly however, going 4 and 2/3 innings and giving up four runs. His record is now 3-6 with a 2.87 ERA. Lakeland managed seven hits on the night but was unable to score any runs. Jeramy Laster and Luis Ott both registered two hits on the night.

The last game of the week would see former Flying Tigers manager Kevin Bradshaw return in uniform to coach first base. Bradshaw still works in the organization as an infield instructor. Duane Below would start for Lakeland, but his performance was much worse than his first game of the week. Below pitched three innings and gave up four earned runs, including two home runs. Cale Iorg and Ryan Strieby each registered an RBI, and both batters had triples in the ninth inning. The rally was too late however, as the team would lose 8-2. Overall, slugger Jeramy Laster still leads the FSL with eleven home runs. As a team, Lakeland leads the league with 48 home runs.

Unfortunately, Laster also leads the league in strikeouts with 79. Ironically enough, Lakeland leads the league in strikeouts as well with 455. The Flying Tigers rank high in several categories in the league – unfortunately they are the wrong ones.

Several players have heated up however, including shortstop Cale Iorg. The slugger has hit three home runs in his last five games, while batting .333 during this five game stretch. Second baseman Scott Sizemore is batting .533 in the last four games, going 2-3 with a double in his latest outing before heading to the clubhouse for unknown reasons. The Flying Tigers will remain at home for two more games against Sarasota before heading to Daytona for a four game series and then returning home to play Brevard County.

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