Lakeland MLN: Weekend Win Streak

After a long, arduous stretch of mediocrity, it was a week that could put even the longest slump in the distant past for the Lakeland Flying Tigers, as they rolled through the weekend with a four-game win streak, highlighted by three walk-off wins.

After getting shelled for 13 runs on 16 hits at Ft. Myers last Wednesday, the Flying Tigers hosted Jupiter for what would be a forgettable four-game set for the Hammerheads.

Adam Wilk, arguably the hottest pitcher on the staff right now, allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings as the game went into extra innings, tied at two. With one out in the bottom of the 10th and runners on first and second, Hammerhead reliever Andy Loomis balked, allowing both runners to advance.

He then walked Bryan Holaday intentionally to load the bases, setting-up John Murrian for a walk-off sacrifice fly, as the Flying Tigers won the game, 3-2.

Rain washed-out Friday night's affair in Lakeland, setting-up a Saturday double-header.

In the first game, late-inning dramatics and capitalizing on Hammerhead errors continued to be a theme. The Hammerheads put up two runs to tie the game at five in the top of the seventh, sending the game into extra innings (minor league double-header games are only seven innings).

In the bottom of the eighth, Billy Nowlin walked before being replaced by pinch-runner Daniel Fields. A sacrifice bunt advanced Fields to second and a botched pickoff attempt sent him to third, and Samir Rijo provided the second consecutive walk-off sac fly for Lakeland, as they won the game, 6-5.

The nightcap proved just as dramatic.

Hammerhead miscues opened the door once again for the Flying Tigers, and one-by-one, they capitalized.

Down to their last out in the bottom of the seventh and trailing 3-0, Brandon Douglas, Jordan Lennerton and Holaday drew consecutive walks to load the bases. Fields followed with a single to score Douglas and get the Flying Tigers on the board. Now trailing 3-1, Bryan Pounds delivered a game-tying single, scoring Lennerton and pinch-runner Patrick McKenna.

With Murrian at the plate, a passed ball allowed the runners to advance to second and third, and Murrian walked to load the bases with two outs in a tie game for pinch-hitter Billy Nowlin, who had a chance to be the hero.

He wasn't. He didn't have to be.

Fields scored from third on a wild pitch, and the Flying Tigers won their third straight in walk-off fashion, 4-3.

They kept the streak going the following night, but with less drama, as Luke Putkonen got his team-leading seventh win, despite walking three and allowing three runs on six hits in just five innings. Lakeland completed the four-game sweep of Jupiter, 4-2.

The streak was snapped on Tuesday night, as the Flying Tigers traveled to Bradenton and returned home with a 3-1 loss.

Amidst all the excitement, Holaday is now hitting .362. He also boasts a .500 on-base percentage and a .532 slugging percentage, giving him a 1.032 OPS. The only Flying Tiger with a higher OPS is McKenna, whose 1.135 OPS, .524 OBP, .611 SLG and .444 average are all team-highs.

McKenna was 4-for-9 with a home run, an RBI and four runs scored for the week, and played an intricate part in the team's four-game win streak; however, he has only played ten games and garnered just 18 at-bats, so despite a solid start and clutch performances, his long-term effectiveness is still to be determined.

Still, after a dismal stretch that saw the Flying Tigers fall from the cusp of the first-half division lead in early June to dead last in the Florida State League going into last week, an exciting week, complete with walk-off wins and a solid winning streak, was exactly what this team needed.

The Flying Tigers (12-18) look to leapfrog first-half division-winner Dunedin (13-18) into fourth place in the division as they host FSL South-leading Bradenton (17-13) in a three-game set starting Wednesday night.



RHP Brayan Villarreal assigned to Erie SeaWolves from Lakeland Flying Tigers.


OF Samir Rijo assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from GCL Tigers.

LHP Ramon Garcia assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from Erie SeaWolves.

OF Christopher White assigned to Erie SeaWolves from Lakeland Flying Tigers.


3B Bryan Pounds, DH Billy Nowlin and LHP Ramon Garcia assigned to Erie SeaWolves from Lakeland Flying Tigers.

OF Matthew Mansilla and 2B Christopher Sedon assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from Connecticut Tigers.


RHP Dan Gentzler assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from GCL Tigers.

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