Sam Machonis (left) and Miguel Cabrera (right) (PC: Florida Southern Athletics)
LAKELAND - Florida Southern senior Sam Machonis (Mohawk Valley 2015) belted a solo home run over the wall in right center in the sixth inning to tie the Moccasins' annual exhibition game with the Detroit Tigers at 2, but the Tigers scored three runs in the seventh and added two runs in the eighth inning to post a 7-2 victory over the Moccasins at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Monday's game was the 30th all-time meeting between the two teams since the annual exhibition series began in 1979. Last season, Detroit posted a 12-2 win over the Mocs.
"You don't read into this game too much with it being an exhibition, but I would imagine the guys are feeling pretty good. It was a pretty good game," Moccasin head coach Lance Niekro said following the game. "The past five years it's been not been really good, but today it was a competitive game and hopefully we can build off of that."
The Tigers, who have won the AL Central title in four of the last five seasons, jumped in front 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning off Moccasin senior hurler Brady Arenson (Glenview, Ill.), who got the start on the mound. Ian Kinsler led off with a single and, after Justin Upton struck out on three pitches, Miguel Cabrera walked. Victor Martinez fouled out while J.D. Martinez drew a walk to load the bases. Nick Castellanos would bring home the first run on an infield single. Arenson, though, would get out the inning by striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Along with his homer in the sixth to tie the game, Machonis also had one of better defensive plays in the game in the second inning as he threw out Jose Igelsias trying to advance to third on a fly out to center by Anthony Gose.
FSC would tie the game in the fourth inning off of Tigers reliever Jairo Labourt as he walked sophomore Logan Browning (Lakeland, Fla.) and Machonis to open the inning with both runner moving up a base on a wild pitch. Junior third baseman Mitch Reeves (Winter Springs, Fla.) would bring home the Mocs' first run on a RBI-single to left. Labourt would then retire the next two Mocs in order, before Lendy Castillo relieved him and ending the inning by forcing senior second baseman Shawn Sanders (Citra, Fla.) to ground out.
Austin Green would give the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning as he lead off with a solo home run over the wall in left center on a 3-2 pitch from redshirt junior Alex Marzilli (North Kingston, R.I.). Marzilli was the fourth Moccasin pitcher of the game as FSC threw eight pitchers in the game.
FSC's pitchers combined to record four walks and have four strikeouts in the game, including the two strikeouts from Arenson.
The lead stayed 2-1 until the sixth inning when Machonis hammered the second pitch he saw leading off the inning from Joe Jimenez over the wall in right center for his game-tying home run. Jimenez, though, would recover and strike out the next Mocs in order.
Detroit, which opens its Grapefruit League schedule on Tuesday with a home game against Pittsburgh, would score all three of its runs in the seventh thanks to a 3-run homer by Jacoby Jones over the left field walll on a 3-2 pitch from senior Stephen Brooks (Glen Allen, Va.). Jones' home run came with two outs in the inning.
"Any time you can hang around a major league team for any amount of innings, even if its for one inning, it is a positive," Niekro added. "We were tied through the middle of the seventh inning and you'll take that any day."
The Tigers added two insurance runs in the eighth to cap the game's scoring. In the eighth, Dixon Machado led off with a single and moved to third on a one-out double by Tommy Field, but Machado scored on the play after an errant throw from left field by senior David Lugo(Homestead, Fla.) was ruled to have gone into the Moccasin dugout down the third base line for an error. Detroit's second run came home on a double to right by Dominic Ficociello. Both of the Tigers' run in the inning were allowed by freshman Chase Pilato (Orlando, Fla.).
For the game, the Mocs were outhit, 13-3 and the Mocs committed two errors.
Drake Britton, who was the fifth Tigers' pitcher, earned the win as he pitched a scoreless seventh inning, including striking out freshman Garrett Conner (Lakeland, Fla.), who was batting as a pinch hitter.
Brooks took the loss for the Mocs as he allowed two hits and three runs and walked one in the seventh inning.
The Tigers were paced by two hits apiece from Ficociello and Machado.
Detroit's regular starters all got one at-bat in Monday's game, except for centerfielder Anthony Gose, who had two at-bats. Detroit's regulars finished the game a combined 2-for-8 with two walks.
Detroit used seven pitchers in the game and they combined for 12 strikeouts and three walks in the game that took about two-and-half hours to play.
The Mocs will return to action on Thursday, March 3 as they host Notre Dame College (Ohio) for a 6 p.m. non-conference game at historic Henley Field.