The force was not with the St. Lucie Mets tonight as they lose 4-2 to the Lakeland Flying Tigers on Star Wars Night, which featured uniform tribute to the franchise and post game fireworks. But there was no fireworks during the first seven innings for a St. Lucie Mets squad as they went hitless against lefty Tigers prospect Austin Sodders. Austin was showing an incredible curveball all night mixed in with his high 80s fastball with movement that kept the hitters off balance.
However throughout the night there was some solid contact made by some of the Mets hitters, and also a couple of unbelievable catches in left field by outfield prospect Kevin Kaczmarski.
The starting pitcher tonight for the Mets was right hander Gary Cornish. The former 2016 draft pick of the Mets walked the leadoff hitter in the top of the first but then induced a fly out, and pop outs to shortstop and first base in a scoreless frame. Cornish was throwing 91-93 MPH on his fastball and a low 80s off speed pitch.
In the bottom of the first the Mets (as they did for 7 innings) went hitless. The highlight came with leadoff hitter Jacob Zanon, known around the team as the resident high exit velocity guy, hit a hard liner to left field that was caught on a really good play by the outfielder. Andres Gimenez then tried to bunt his way on but the ball went straight to the pitcher who fielded it and threw him out. Kevin Kaczmarski then lined out to third base to end the inning 0-0.
In the top of the second Cornish recorded a leadoff strikeout on a fastball, and proceeded to have the next batter flyout to third base before giving up a line drive single to center field. The next batter flied out to left field to end the second inning with game still scoreless.
In the bottom of the second the Mets went quietly, with Desmond Lindsay popping out to first base, Luis Carpio also flying out to first baseman, and Anthony Dimino struck out to keep the game scoreless.
In the top of the third the leadoff hitter for the Flying Tigers flied out to left field and Kevin Kaczmarski made a great catch for the first out. Cornish then issued a walk, gave up a lined single into left field before inducing a possible double play ball grounded to second baseman Luis Carpio who picked it, tossed to Andres Gimenez who fired over to first base but the runner was called safe. The next batter then popped one out to short left field and that’s when Kaczmarski made an incredible diving catch seen below to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, with the game still scoreless, Mets infielder J.J. Franco grounded out to shortstop, Dash Winningham popped out to left field, Jacob Zanon walked but then Andres Gimenez hit a liner that looked like it would get through but was caught to end the inning. Video below.
The top of the fourth is when things began to unravel for Cornish, who did get the first out of the inning inducing a ground out to third base. A nice play by J.J. Franco and throw, but then the next two batters hit almost identical line drives into left field. The following batter lined a single into center field scoring the first run of the game for Lakeland now with runners on second and third. The next batter lined out to right field for a sac fly, scoring the second run of the inning. After giving up a walk the runner attempted to steal second. Catcher Dan Rizzie threw to second baseman Luis Carpio who saw the runner at third trying to score and threw a bullet back to Rizzie who applied the tag to end the inning and Cornish night after 76 pitches.
In the bottom of the fourth more of the same quite bats for St. Lucie. Kaczmarski grounded out to first base, Desmond Lindsay drew a walk but then Luis Carpio and Anthony Dimino flew out and grounded out to end the 4th with the opposing pitcher still throwing a no hitter. Lakeland 2, St. Lucie 0.
In the top of the fifth the Mets called upon Matt Blackham to relieve Cornish and Blackham had a wild night. Still sitting his usual 91-93 and topping 94, Blackham appeared to be up on his trademark off speed pitches and was down on his fastballs throughout the inning. After a fly out to start the fifth and his first and only strikeout of the inning, Blackham then walked the next two batters both on fastballs. Then after giving up a lined single into right field the Flying Tigers scored their third run on the play. Blackham then walked the next batter, his third walk of the inning before a mound visit. Blackham then induced a ground out to end the fifth with Lucie now trailing 3-0.
Bottom of the fifth saw the Lucie Mets go down in order, with Franco grounding out to third, Dash flying out to right field and Dan Rizzie striking out to end the inning and the Mets still hitless.
Side arm pitcher Adam Atkins then came into the game top 6 and pitched a perfect inning. Atkins allowed only a groundout to left field, a fly out to left and groundout to second.
In the bottom of the sixth Jacob Zanon struck out, Andres Gimenez lined out the left field and Kaczmarski flew out to center field.
Atkins came back out for the seventh inning and was greeted with a hard hit triple to right center field. a passed ball then scored the runner from third to make it 4-0 Lakeland. After a groundout to Gimenez the following hitter hit a rocket right at Gimenez who appeared to be trapped in the moment of deciding to jump or not. Gimenez got caught in the air with ball perhaps not as high as he though it would go and the ball skipped out of his glove for an error. But then the very next batter hit one hard on the ground to Gimenez who started a smooth double play with a throw to Carpio and then a strike throw by Carpio to first to end the inning. Carpio showed a lot of arm strength throughout the game, keeping in mind the former heralded high end prospect has been slowed by a shoulder injury and surgery from it in recent years.
Bottom of the seventh was more of the same for St. Lucie as Lindsay flew out the center field, Luis Carpio then hit a shot hard and deep to left field right at the wall but the fielder raced back and make the leaping catch. Dimino then grounded out to first and the opposing pitcher had himself seven hitless innings and possibly a very nervous coaching staff trying to keep him in the game.
Ryder Ryan took the mound to start the eighth for the Mets and was electric from the start. This was the best I have seen Ryder this seen and the hardest I’ve seen him throw. Ryder was sitting 95-96 consistently with a wicked off speed pitch. After the first hitter grounded out to second Ryder then struck out the next batter on a filthy 88 MPH pitch with movement as seen below in this video.
The next batter, a right-handed hitter, was able to catch enough of one of Ryan’s 96 MPH heaters to ground it past the second baseman Carpio into right field but then then batter afterwards flew out to left to end a very efficient and effective 8th inning for Ryan.
With his pitch count in the upper 80’s Sodders walked Mets hitter Franco and then struck out Dash Winningham before finally giving up his first hit of the night, a lined single by Dan Rizzie past a diving second baseman and into center field which ended the night for Sodders at over 100 pitches.
Jacob Zanon then walked and Gimenez followed with a ground out to first that scored the Mets first run of the night off Eduardo Jimenez of the Tigers. Kaczmarski then hit an infield single to score the Mets second run but with the bases loaded Lindsay flew out to right field.
Thomas Mcilraith came in to pitch the ninth for the Mets, inducing a fly out to right field, a lined single to left, a flyout to right and then a runner with two outs attempted to steal and was gunned down by Dan Rizzie who showed a strong arm and accurate to second.
In the bottom of the ninth Carpio hit a liner right at the pitcher who made the catch and the put out. Anthony Dimino kept things alive beating out an infield single placed perfectly between the first and second baseman and just past the pitcher. Franco then hit a laser into deep left field that was caught and Dash struck out to end the game, Mets lose 4-2.
Jacob Zanon: 0 for 2, 2 BB, K .217
Andres Gimenez: 0 for 4, RBI .259
Kevin Kaczmarski: 1 for 4, RBI .250
Desmond Lindsay: 0 for 3, BB .227
Luis Carpio: 0 for 4 .221
Anthony Dimino: 1 for 4, K .289
J.J. Franco: 0 for 3, R, BB .231
Dash Winningham: 0 for 4, 2 K, .188
Dan Rizzie: 1 for 2, R, BB, K .212
Gary Cornish: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, K, 3.86 ERA
Matt Blackham: 1.0 IP, H, ER, 3 BB, K, 2.35 ERA
Adam Atkins: 2.0 IP, 2 H, ER, 3.00 ERA
Ryder Ryan: 1.0 IP, H, 0 R, K, 2.12 ERA
Thomas MciLraith: 1.0 IP, H, 0 R, 5.28 ERA
Jacob Zanon had a pretty solid night at the plate with the walks and the leadoff line drive shot that was unfortunately caught.
Andres Gimenez got caught a few times chasing bad pitches (this pitcher was filthy) but also had two solid contact at bats off the opposing lefty that were caught.
Kevin Kaczmarski the gold star for the day in the loss with his defense.
Lindsay continues to see the ball well at the plate but was not able to barrel up on the ball except for the one pretty deep to right field with the bases loaded.
Carpio continues to show flashes of some pop in his bat and his arm/shoulder were strong tonight in the field.
Dan Rizzie looked really good behind the plate making numerous steps in the dirt to go with his throwing out of a would be base stealer.
Ryder Ryan does not belong in Class High A.
Thank you for reading!
Final note: I was lucky enough to have met a number of the players pre-game for an autograph session. So many respectful, kind and friendly young men on this team and in this organization.