Lakeland MLN: Team Struggles as Summer Drags

In the rainy Florida summer, the Flying Tigers are still reeling. After an impromptu double-header was scheduled last Wednesday to make up for last Monday's rainout, showers continued to sweep through Lakeland, once again postponing the Flying Tigers' series against the now first-place Tampa Yankees.

Perhaps that was best.

After all, they had lost four straight to end a 9-16 June campaign that saw them fall from division relevance and into the depths of the Florida State League standings. Now, the Flying Tigers are a league-worst 2-9, six-and-a-half games out of first place in the FSL North and searching for some positives to cling to.

Most of those positives seemed to come on Sunday night. Riding a seven-game losing streak and desperately needing something to help them forget about losing three All-Stars and the league's strikeout leader to promotion the week before, the offense exploded in an Independence Day rout of the first-half division-winners, the Dunedin Blue Jays.

It was the high point of an otherwise forgettable week, as the Flying Tigers put a few quarters in the merry-go-round, scoring 14 runs on 17 hits, fifteen of them singles, and going 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Recently-promoted Jordan Lennerton went 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored in the holiday victory, and had a solid week overall, going 8-for-19 with a home run and a pair of doubles.

Since joining the Flying Tigers on June 24, Lennerton is hitting .333 with two home runs and a .429 on-base percentage, all while slugging .633, giving him a 1.062 OPS.

Sure, it's only nine games, but if it's something for the Flying Tigers to get excited about, they'll take it.

Overshadowed by the Fourth of July offensive explosion was Adam Wilk's dominating performance on the mound. Wilk tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out nine, improving to 5-4 on the year and running his ERA to 3.11, now ranked seventh in the FSL. He has also walked just 11 batters in his league-leading 98.1 innings, all while boasting the league's eighth-ranked WHIP (1.12).

Brandon Douglas continued his success at the plate, going 12-for-21 for the week with a pair of triples. He remains among the team leaders in batting average (.346), OBP (.413), slugging (.457) and OPS (.870).

New faces Patrick McKenna and Alexander Moreno are also off to solid starts after being promoted from the Gulf Coast League, going a combined 9-for-18 with five RBI combined in just a few games with the team. Meanwhile, Jonathan Kibler continues to struggle on the mound, falling to 1-3 and inflating his ERA to 4.15 after allowing four runs in five innings in the first game of a double-header sweep at the hand of the Blue Jays Tuesday night.

The Flying Tigers have a nearly identical schedule in the coming days as they had last week, starting with a three-game set against Clearwater before traveling to Dunedin for another three-game series. The Threshers swept the Flying Tigers in Clearwater last week to begin a week in which Lakeland finished 1-5. The Flying Tigers look to start this week off on the right foot at home Wednesday night, as the following series against the Blue Jays will be their last division matchup until August 9, when they will once again host the Threshers.


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