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JUPITER, Fla. — SS/DH José Torres did not let Thursday’s rainout dampen his torrid pace at the plate during the season-ending road trip. The 21-year-old reached base five times and drove in three runs on Friday, as the Daytona Tortugas rolled to a 7-1 game one victory, while the Palm Beach Cardinals breezed their way to a win in game two, 11-3, at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
In the opener, Torres (2-2, 2 R, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, BB) got Daytona’s (59-59) offense into gear in the top of the third. With one out, the shortstop rifled a drive over the wall in left for a solo home run. His fourth with the Tortugas put the visitors ahead, 1-0.
2B Brandon Leyton (1-2, R, 2 RBI, BB) quickly kept the attack going by drawing a walk. After 3B Elly De La Cruz (2-3, R, BB) earned a free pass, CF Justice Thompson (1-3, BB, SO) hit a grounder behind the third-base bag.
The 2021 sixth-round pick beat the throw to first, as the ball kicked behind the first baseman and toward the Palm Beach (36-79) bullpen. Both Leyton and De La Cruz scored, as Thompson scampered to second, placing Daytona ahead 3-0.
An inning later, LF Garrett Wolforth (2-4, R, 3B, RBI) started a rally with a leadoff single to center before taking second on a one-out walk to RF Gus Steiger (0-2, R, BB, SO). Following a pitching change and a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third, Torres lofted a sacrifice fly to right, stretching the advantage to four. Leyton subsequently rolled a single to left to drive in another tally.
After Wolforth expanded Daytona’s cushion to six in the fifth with a run-producing triple into the right-field corner, Palm Beach broke up the shutout in their half with a PH-RF Mike Antico (1-1, RBI) single. The ‘Tugas scratched across one last tally in the sixth when Torres tripled to center and crossed on a Leyton sacrifice fly to left.
RHP Sam Benschoter (3.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 7 SO) dominated in his second start with Daytona. The undrafted free agent signee in July out of Michigan State University punched out a career-high seven over a professional-long 3.0 innings in a no-decision. RHP Miguel Medrano (4.0 IP, 2 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) garnered his fifth win out of the bullpen.
Palm Beach LHP Levi Prater (3.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 SO) was bounced from the game in the fourth and suffered his ninth defeat of the year.
The Cardinals were able to return the favor to the Tortugas in the nightcap. Scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, Palm Beach erupted in a big way.
C Aaron McKeithan (0-2, 2 R, BB, SO) was plunked to start the inning and, following a strikeout, took second on a DH Osvaldo Tovalín (3-4, 2 R, 3B, 3 RBI) single. Consecutive walks to 2B Noah Mendlinger (0-0, R, 4 BB) and 3B Darlyn Del Villar (0-2, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB) chased in a run to grant Palm Beach a 1-0 lead.
CF Mike Antico (2-4, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, SO) followed and punished the second offering he saw beyond the right-center field fence for a grand slam. The University of Texas alum’s sixth professional home run quickly saturated the Redbirds’ lead to 5-0.
Palm Beach would add another run on a wild pitch before Daytona broke up the shutout bid in the fifth. LF Gus Steiger (1-3, R, SO) collected a leadoff knock and came all the way around to cross on a double off the wall in left-center by DH José Torres (2-3, 2B, RBI, SO).
A second bases-loaded walk to Del Villar in the fifth put the Cardinals back ahead by six. With the bases full again in the sixth, Tovalín cleared the bags with a three-run triple to right-center. He would later score on a double-play ground ball to third.
Trailing 11-1, Daytona added two last runs in the seventh. PH Danny Lantigua (0-0, R, BB) walked and advanced to second on a hit by PH Debby Santana (1-1, R). A pair of wild pitches permitted Lantigua to score before Santana crossed on a sacrifice fly to center by 3B Rece Hinds (0-2, RBI, BB, SO).
Neither starter factored into the decision in the nightcap. RHP José Moreno (4.2 IP, 5 H, R, ER, BB, 9 SO) struck out nine and fell one out shy of qualifying for the victory for Palm Beach. Daytona’s RHP Ryan Cardona (2.0 IP, H, 2 BB, 2 SO) was effective over 2.0 shutout frames.
LHP Nathanael Heredia (2.1 IP, H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO) registered the final seven outs for the Beach Birds, earning his first victory with the club. Tortugas RHP José Franco (1.2 IP, 2 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO) was saddled with his fifth defeat.
Daytona will look to reach the 60-win plateau on Saturday night with RHP Frainger Aranguren (6-7, 4.36) expected to make his second start of the year. RHP Dionys Rodríguez — St. Louis’ No. 25 prospect per Baseball America — is scheduled to take the hill for Palm Beach. Coverage on the Tortugas Radio Network will begin on the MiLB First Pitch app and www.daytonatortugas.com at 6:15 p.m. leading up to the 6:30 p.m. first pitch from Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
ABOUT THE DAYTONA TORTUGAS
The Daytona Tortugas are the Low-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of Minor League Baseball’s Low-A Southeast. The Tortugas play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in downtown Daytona Beach. Jackie Robinson Ballpark also plays host to Bethune-Cookman University, the Jackie Robinson Ballpark Museum, and many community events and initiatives of all sizes throughout the year.