One Lakeland starter who was able to showcase his talents this week was Jonah Nickerson. The Oregon State grad started two games this week and finished with a record of 2-0 in twelve and 2/3 innings pitched while striking out eight and giving up only three earned runs. His record on the season is now an impressive 10-3.
In a tale of two top draft picks, top prospect Rick Porcello only managed to pitch four innings in his lone start this week despite only giving up one earned run. Thanks to poor defense from the Flying Tigers, Sarasota had already notched four runs by the time Porcello was removed from the game. After using several pitchers, Lakeland finally inserted 2008 first round pick Ryan Perry into the game, where he pitched a scoreless eighth inning to register his first professional win. Perry has appeared in three games now and in three and 1/3 innings of work has given up zero earned runs and only one hit while walking two batters and earning a save as well.
Perry's save came after an impressive performance from Duane Below who has been struggling as of late. Below pitched five and 2/3 innings while giving up only one earned run and striking out six. A little concerning were his four walks, but he still managed to notch the win to improve his record to 6-7 on the season.
While Porcello's outings had been getting longer, Dontrelle Willis is now pitching for extended periods of time as well. In his longest outing of the season at Lakeland, Willis pitched five innings while giving up one earned run and walking three. He also struck out three batters. Reports say that he still struggled to throw strikes and narrowly escaped several dangerous situations, stranding multiple Sarasota baserunners. Regardless, his inning and pitch counts are gradually increasing as the season progresses.
On the offensive side, Luis Ott has batted well after returning from his stint at AA Erie. Ott batted 10-28 on the week to register an average of .357. However, the real impressive performance came from slugging first baseman Ryan Strieby. Strieby batted 16-33 this week for a remarkable .485 average with four home runs. With the four home runs, Strieby not only reclaimed the league lead with twenty-seven (passing Dunedin's Brian Dopirak), but he also set the franchise record for a single season with his twenty-fifth home run.
The season is wrapping up and the Flying Tigers hope to make a push for the playoffs behind their starting pitching and the hot bat of Ryan Strieby. The team will return home this week for a three game series with Clearwater followed by a three game series at home against first place Dunedin.