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Tortugas break through late as three pitchers combine for six-hit shutout

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla—Johnny Ascanio connected for his first home run of the season and three Daytona hurlers combined to blank the St. Lucie Mets 2-0 as the Daytona Tortugas claimed a series victory on Sunday afternoon at Clover Park.

Daytona (2-1) did not walk a batter and allowed just six hits, all singles, by St. Lucie (1-2), who racked up 15 strikeouts from their pitching staff, but put in a quiet afternoon at the plate.

Daytona mounted a threat right away against rehabbing right-hander Max Kranick in the first as a one-out walk was followed by a bunt single from Dominic Pitelli and an infield hit from Carter Graham. After a strikeout, Kranick was lifted for Jonah Tong, who picked up a strikeout with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Tortugas threatened again in the second as Yassel Pino doubled before a wild pitch and a walk put runners on the corners. Once again, though, Tong ended the inning with a strikeout.

In the third, Daytona began the inning in promising fashion as a single by Pitelli and a walk to Graham put two on with no outs. However, Jonah Tong locked in immediately afterwards. The right-hander struck out the next three batters, all of them looking, to end the inning.

He continued that run by striking out the side in fourth, running his streak to six straight strikeouts. He then fanned two more in the fifth, finishing his outing with 11 strikeouts in 4.1 scoreless innings.

On the other side, Adam Serwinowski was very sharp for Daytona, setting down the first ten hitters he faced. An error ended that string in the fourth and the lefty allowed a single, but he settled down to pick up a strikeout with two on to end the inning.

Serwinowski went 4.0 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while issuing no walks and striking out six.

Nestor Lorant came on in the fifth and kept up the scoreless string, erasing a two-out hit on a pickoff in the inning. St. Lucie put two on with one out in the sixth, but the right-hander induced a 5-4-3 double play to end that inning.

Meanwhile, the Tortugas finally broke through against Austin Troesser in the seventh. With one out, Carlos Sanchez and Ascanio both walked. After a flyout, Graham looped a single into center field to bring home Sanchez with the game’s first run. Ariel Almonte followed with another base hit, but Ascanio was cut down at the plate to keep it 1-0, Daytona.

Lorant (1-0) erased a leadoff single with another twin killing in the seventh before navigating around a two-out hit in a scoreless eighth to finish his outing. The right-hander logged 4.0 innings, scattering five hits while striking out three with no walks to earn the victory in relief.

In the ninth, Ascanio provided some insurance by blasting a two-out solo home run, crushing a 370-foot drive to right off Brett Banks that doubled the Tortuga lead to 2-0.

In the bottom of the ninth, Jacksonville native Dylan Simmons entered the contest to make his professional debut and immediately showed he was ready for the moment. The right-hander struck out the first two hitters before inducing a groundout to first to pick up the save, nailing down a 2-0 victory.

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