Roman Quinn’s long-awaited debut in center field was delayed an additional 53 minutes tonight due to rain. However, once the game started, he did not have to wait long for his chance. The Lakeland Flying Tigers’ Chad Wright drove Ryan Demmin’s second pitch hard into the left-center field gap. Quinn closed ground with a nice, easy gait and caught the ball in front of the warning track.
Ironically, the first 4 balls Lakeland put into play were hit at Threshers who were fielding positions they hadn’t been playing for a while. After testing Quinn, Lakeland hit 2 balls hard at Harold Martinez, who was playing his first game at third since going onto the DL on May 17th. On one, he dove to his right to field the ball and recovered to make a strong, accurate throw to get the out. The other was to his left. He got in front of the ball, but couldn’t handle the high hop for an error. The fourth ground ball found KC Serna at second. He had been playing third lately during Martinez’ absence. Serna made the routine play.
Ryan Demmin put forth a good effort with less than his best stuff. He was coming off a scoreless, 4-hit, no walk, 7 strike out effort that earned him FSL Pitcher of the Week honors. He struggled with his command at times and threw four 20-pitch innings en route to a 113-pitch night. He exited after 6 innings having allowed 3 earned runs on 7 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7 and picking a runner off first base.
The bullpen came on to relinquish 3 more runs over the final 3 innings. Dan Child pitched a scoreless, 3-hit 7th inning. He gave up a run and 3 more hits in the 8th before giving way to Jordan Guth to get the final 2 outs. Guth walked his first batter and allowed an inherited runner to score before getting out of the inning. Kevin Walter started the 9th inning and gave up an earned run and one unearned run on 3 hits. That’s 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 earned, 1 walk, and 4 strike outs by the bullpen in two innings.
Meanwhile, the Offense was facing another future Cy Young Award winner. The Tigers’ right-handed Edgar De La Rosa (3-4, 3.30) 1-hit the Threshers in 8 innings back in April. He continued that dominance over them again tonight. They could only manage 2 hits and 2 walks before he was lifted after 7 innings. In addition, one of the free passes resulted in a successful pick off of Quinn.
The Threshers did manage a couple hits and an unearned run on a wild pitch off three Tiger relievers. Angelo Mora greeted the first reliever with a double off the warning track in left center. He eventually scored their lone run. Martinez singled twice in 4 at bats. Singles by Brian Pointer and Chris Serritella rounded out the offense. Every Thresher struck out at least once except for Gabriel Lino.
Quinn looked natural out in center field. After his first catch he had several other chances. He drifted casually under one fly ball. He caught up to and grabbed a gapper on one bounce on the warning track. He backed up a ball that caromed past the right fielder, bare-handed it, and rifled it back to the infield. He sprinted back and settled under a ball that a lot of fielders would have caught on the run. Center field looks like the position he was born to play.
Dollar night tomorrow night and hopefully another appearance by Quinn in center field. Two days til Crawford, and counting.