Tonight in Daytona Beach, the Brevard County Manatees have a chance to do something they have not done since 2007: Win the I-95 Rivalry Trophy against the Daytona Cubs.
That year happened to be the inaugural season of the I-95 trophy challenge, the brainchild of the Manatees 2007 intern staff, led by General Manager Buck Rogers. The ‘Tees won the season series against the Cubs, 11-7, but have not won it since. They now just have to win one of the next four meetings with Daytona to capture the seven-year old trophy, starting tonight at Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
Of course, today’s ‘Tees don’t remember the ’07 team that knocked off Daytona in the regular season. Do you?
Nine members of the ’07 Manatees now have Major League service time, including current Kansas City Royals SS Alcides Escobar and CF Lorenzo Cain. That pair went to KC in December of 2010 in exchange for former Cy Young award-winning right-hander Zack Greinke ans SS Yuniesky Betancourt.
That team also featured a name that ‘Tees fans of today and years past will recognize. Current Brevard County hitting coach Ned Yost IV played first base for the Manatees that year.
Brevard County and Daytona split the first 10 games of the series, including a doubleheader split at Space Coast Stadium on the final day before the All-Star Break. When play resumed in the second half, the ‘Tees took control of the series.
The Manatees won both games of a home-and-home with the Cubs behind a heavy-hitting performance by 3B Mat Gamel. One of Brevard’s top RBI men that season, Gamel drove in three runs over the two-game span with a homer and a triple.
That two-game sweep gave the ‘Tees momentum. Brevard County took two-of-three games in the team’s next meeting with Daytona in late July. Now leading the series, 9-7, Brevard County needed just two more wins to ensure ownership of the first I-95 Trophy.
Two to Go
Brevard County traveled to Jackie Robinson Ballpark to play a three-game series against the Cubs over two days in late August. The first day of the trip presented a chance for the Manatees to take home the trophy with a doubleheader sweep, but it was not going to come easy.
The ‘Tees trailed the first game of the doubleheader late. In a game devoid of scoring, the Cubs held a 1-0 lead going into the top of the seventh.
Brevard County then tied the game in the 11th hour. Daytona brought in Darin Downs out of the bullpen to close the game, but Michael Bell drilled the first pitch of the inning over the left field wall to even the score.
The Manatees and Cubs headed to extra innings and Brevard capitalized on a big Daytona error in the eighth. With one out, Cain reached on a fielding miscue by SS Jonathan Mota. Cain then stole third and Yohannis Perez delivered a sacrifice fly to score the go-ahead run and the ‘Tees went on to win, 2-1.
The Manatees fell in game two of the doubleheader, 12-0, but came back swinging the following night.
In a slugfest that featured 29 hits between the two sides, the Manatees found themselves on top heading into the ninth. Brevard County was on top, 8-7, but added three more runs in the top of the ninth to take a commanding 11-7 edge.
Daytona, however, did not go quietly. Ryan Harvey led off with a home run and the Cubs tacked on two more on a single and a bases-loaded walk.
The Cubs had the tying run on third and the winning run on second with two outs, but Ryan was there once again to save the day out of the bullpen. He induced a game-ending ground ball to second base. Bell fielded it and stepped on the second base bag to end the ballgame and bring the first ever I-95 Trophy to Brevard County.
Daytona and Brevard County were scheduled to play twice more at the tail end of the season, but the games were cancelled due to rain. Since then, the closest the ‘Tees have come to winning the rivalry was in 2009 when the two sides tied, 9-9. Two games were cancelled that year, as well.
Brevard County will send LHP Hobbs Johnson to the hill against LHP Nathan Dorris tonight in Daytona. If you can’t make it to the game, you can tune in to hear the ‘Tees go for the I-95 Trophy at ManateesBaseball.com.