Lakeland MLN: LFT Cool Off as Summer Rolls In

As Lakeland welcomes Florida's hot summer months, the Flying Tigers have suddenly cooled off. After pulling within a half game of the division-leading Dunedin Blue Jays just before the All-Star break, the Flying Tigers have slid down to fourth place in the Florida State League North Division behind Tampa and a streaking Clearwater team.

This week's struggles are just the latest in an arduous month for Lakeland. Falling to 7-12 in June, the pitching struggles continued while the offense fizzled most of the week.

The Flying Tigers had a team batting average of just .229 for the week, scoring only 20 runs in seven games, averaging just under four runs per game in June.

Alden Carrithers, however, is far from slumping. The 25-year-old second baseman stayed atop the league in hitting at .359 after going 6-for-12 in four games this week. His 43 walks and .464 OBP also lead the league, and he is second in OPS (.887), third in hits (79) and fourth runs scored (42).

Meanwhile, All-Stars Rawley Bishop and Kody Kaiser floundered at the plate, going a combined 6-for 33 with 11 total strikeouts for the week. Bishop did, however, belt his sixth home run of the year Tuesday night in the nightcap against Daytona, a three-run blast that gave the Flying Tigers a first-inning lead they would never relinquish.

Despite a loss and a no-decision, Adam Wilk remains the team's hottest pitcher. At 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA, his numbers are hardly eye-popping. However, he leads the league in innings pitched with 86 and is third in WHIP at 1.10. He has also thrown one of the handfull of complete games in the FSL this year.

This week, his problem was run support.

Last Wednesday against Daytona, Wilk allowed just two runs on seven hits, striking out four before being pulled after seven innings with the team trailing 2-1. While the Flying Tigers eventually won the game 4-3, reliever Miguel Mejia got the win, his second of the year, and Wilk got the no-decision.

On Tuesday night, Wilk's line was almost identical to his previous start: He allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings, striking out four. Unfortunately, his run support was also identical, receiving just one run from the offense, and the Flying Tigers fell to the Daytona, 2-1 in a double-header-shortened seven-inning affair.

Despite not pitching this week, Charlie Furbush still leads the league with 109 skrikeouts, 11 more than the next in line. Meanwhile, Jonathan Kibler had a shaky debut in Lakeland this week, allowing four runs on eight hits in just 4.2 innings against Brevard County, the worst team in the division.

The Flying Tigers (36-33) are in the midst of what was supposed to be their easiest stretch of games to date. With Clearwater winning four straight and jumping them in the standings, the Flying Tigers are now four games out of first place.

After losing 3-or-4 to Brevard County last week, Lakeland squares-off against Daytona Wednesday morning before heading back to Brevard County for another three-game set. Next week, they begin a stretch in which they play the three teams ahead of them in the division in 16 straight games, starting with a four-game set against Tampa, in which they hope to climb back up into FSL relevance.

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