Lakeland MLN: Week of Close Battles

Coming off a couple of strong weeks, the Flying Tigers coasted through a week of close games, winning three of six, two of which came by just one run. Unlike their early-season trend, the Flying Tigers are 8-3 in their last 11 one-run games, but are still struggling to climb the division standings.

Splitting a four-game set in Charlotte last week, the Flying Tigers split the first two of a three-game series with Clearwater, including a 4-0 shutout on Tuesday night to run their record to 20-23, still in fourth place in the Florida State League North Division, 8.5 games behind the division-leading Tampa Yankees.

Starting pitcher Adam Wilk continues to pitch well, and was named FSL Pitcher of the Week for the period of August 2-8, a stretch in which he was 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA, allowing just 10 hits in 15 innings while striking out 10 and not issuing a walk.

Wilk's nine wins is fourth in the FSL, his 2.99 ERA and 1.07 WHIP are third, and he allows less that one walk per nine innings, which is also among the league's best. He has also thrown 10 consecutive scoreless innings, eight of which came when the Flying Tigers needed them most, in a 1-0 win at Charlotte last Saturday.

First baseman Jordan Lennerton provided plenty of offense, going 9-for-23 with a pair of doubles and a home run for the week. He's hit .317 with a .364 OBP, a .439 slugging percentage and an .803 OPS in his last 10 games.

Aside from Lennerton, the rest of the offense struggled at times.

Though they smacked 51 hits over six games, they managed to score just 15 runs, largely due to their inability to hit with runners in scoring position, where they were 11-for-52. They also left 43 runners on base.

Right-handed pitcher Jared Gayhart struggled in relief last week, as he gave up a walk-off single in a 4-3 loss to Charlotte over the weekend before allowing a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the ninth against Clearwater on Monday night, his first home run surrendered in 15 games with Lakeland. The Flying Tigers lost that game, 1-0.

Between those two appearances, Gayhart did record a save in a 5-4 win at Charlotte, but not before walking a batter who would eventually score on a sacrifice fly to bring the Stone Crabs within one.

Lakeland's next ten games are against Clearwater (19-26) and Brevard County (27-18) before facing first-half division-winner Dunedin (19-26) and second-half leaders Tampa (28-14) and Daytona (28-16) over the last 17 games to close the season.

As the Flying Tigers creep closer to the .500 mark, the surging Yankees, who are 8-2 in their last 10 games, continue to pull away. While they have shown signs of improvement and flashes of consistency in recent weeks, time is running out on the Flying Tigers if they want to have a shot at the second-half crown.

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