Santos saves the day – Tarpons top Threshers in extras, 5-4
TAMPA, Fla. – CF Madison Santos called game. Santos’ RBI-single in the bottom of the tenth sent the Tampa faithful home happy as the Tarpons (21-12) defeated the Clearwater Threshers (12-23) in walk-off fashion, 5-4. The Tarpons were able to hold on and prevail in a game that saw multiple
TAMPA, Fla. – CF Madison Santos called game.
Santos’ RBI-single in the bottom of the tenth sent the Tampa faithful home happy as the Tarpons (21-12) defeated the Clearwater Threshers (12-23) in walk-off fashion, 5-4. The Tarpons were able to hold on and prevail in a game that saw multiple lead changes and close plays.
RHP Zach Messinger (4.0IP, 2H, 2ER, 5BB, 6K) made the start for Tampa and provided the home team with four solid innings on the mound. Messinger managed to rack up six strikeouts, but a lack of control led to five walks and a couple of costly wild pitches.
Clearwater scored the first run of the game in a bizarre series of plays. Erick Brito led off the inning with a four-pitch walk. Then, a couple self-inflicted mistakes moved Brito around the bases. On a stolen base attempt, Brito reached second and then advanced to third on C Ben Rice’s erratic throw which sailed past the reach of SS Alexander Vargas. Messinger spiked a wild pitch in the dirt that ended up behind Rice and Clearwater took a 1-0 lead.
Déjà vu struck in the next inning but this time it was Jamari Baylor who made the trip around the bases. Baylor, who played hero for Clearwater last night, worked a four-pitch free pass with two outs. He would go on to swipe second and third base to put himself in position to score on another wild pitch by Messinger.
Tampa’s offense finally found some life in the bottom of the fourth. 2B Jared Serna led off the inning with a line-drive single to Chad Castillo in left field. Both Rice and RF Raimfer Salinas drew walks to load the bases for Tampa with two outs. Clearwater called on Alex McKenney in relief to get out of the jam, but the right-hander was unable to neutralize the threat. Vargas chopped a single which bounced off the glove of Baylor at first. Baylor was able to knock it down and keep it in the infield, but an errant throw to McKenney covering first landed in the Tarpons’ dugout which plated another runner. DH Antonio Gomez wrapped the inning up with a pretty bow as he slapped a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield to put Tampa on top, 3-2.
The Tarpons put the contest in cruise control up until everything unraveled in the top of the ninth. RHP Bailey Dees was sent out in the ninth to close the door on Clearwater. Instead, he surrendered a single to Matt Alifano and walked Troy Schreffler to start the frame. Manager Rachel Balkovec was not interested in rolling the dice further, opting to switch Dees with RHP Enrique Santana. Alexeis Azuaje stepped up to the plate and knotted things up at three apiece with a line drive RBI-single to left. Brito followed suit with an RBI-single of his own to plate the go-ahead run.
Tampa headed into the bottom of the ninth in need of one run after handing the lead back over to the Threshers. On a 1-2 count, Vargas absolutely laid into Sam Jacobsak’s offering to even things out again. His eighth home run of the season cleared the right field fence by a mile and electrified the crowd.
RHP Zach Kohn pitched a scoreless tenth to set the Tarpons up for a walk-off victory. Safe to say, Santos answered the call and ripped the game-winning RBI-single right up the middle to score Cowles from second.
The Tarpons and Threshers conclude their six-game series tomorrow afternoon with first pitch slated for 12:00 PM EST.