TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (1-1) bounced back from an Opening Night loss against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (1-1) with an offensive outburst, claiming a 6-1 victory at GMS Field. Tampa leaned on the Yankees’ 23rd-ranked prospect, RHP Sean Hermann (6.0IP, 3H, 4K) who toed the slab and tossed
TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (1-1) bounced back from an Opening Night loss against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (1-1) with an offensive outburst, claiming a 6-1 victory at GMS Field. Tampa leaned on the Yankees’ 23rd-ranked prospect, RHP Sean Hermann (6.0IP, 3H, 4K) who toed the slab and tossed six scoreless innings. Hermann relied heavily on his sinker tonight, using it 47% of the time.
SS Benny Escanio got things started early for Tampa, leading off the home frame with a walk. With one gone, 3B Jared Serna struck a hard ground ball up the middle to put two on for Tampa. Following Serna, Rodriguez scorched a ball up the middle, but a diving play from Cristian Santana prevented a run from scoring, resulting in a fielder’s choice. With the Tarpons threatening, a wild pitch brought in the first run of the game, allowing Escanio to cross the plate.
The second inning was highlighted by spectacular defensive plays by the Tarpons. 2B Ronny Rojas made a beautiful play on the run to get the first out of the frame. The inning concluded with another web gem by Escanio, who fielded a chopper on the run to nab Sergio Tapia at first base.
LF Raimfer Salinas got the inning started with a hopper to short. Santana made a charging play and was helped out by his first baseman, Jenkins, who saved an error with a terrific scoop. With the lineup flipped back over, Escanio reached base for the second time, dunking a single over Santana’s head. Tampa was unable to add to the lead, leaving Escanio on first base.
Peyton Graham came out swinging to start the fourth inning. He hit a seeing-eye single right past a diving Serna at third base. The Flying Tigers should have learned their lesson in the first inning not to run on Rodriguez, but they tried again. Rodriguez hosed Graham at second base to catch his second runner of the game.
After throwing out his second runner in the top of the frame, Rodriguez legged out an infield single to open up the bottom half inning. After an ABS (Automatic Ball Strike) challenge that kept CF Nelson Medina at the plate, he looped a single to left field. Following a walk, the Tarpons got two runners in scoring position thanks to a passed ball. RF Felix Negueis worked a walk that set Tampa up with the bases loaded. Lakeland’s new arm, Erick Rodriguez, tried to escape the jam, but Rojas drew a four-pitch walk to give the Tarpons their second run of the night. Some productive hitting got the Tarpons across the plate again when Salinas bounced a ground ball to third, which brought the run in.
The Tigers went back to the bullpen, with Marco Jimenez taking over on the mound. After retiring the first batter, a walk to Serna put the Tarpons in position to do damage. Serna showed his speed by taking second base; right after that, Martinez worked the second walk of the inning. With the runners in motion, Jimenez painted a fastball on the outside corner to get out of trouble.
Hermann continued his dominance in the sixth inning. After striking out the first two batters, Wenceel Pérez reached on an E4, and then a spectacular shoestring catch in center field by CF Nelson Medina got Tampa out of the inning.
RHP Luis Velasquez picked up right where Sean Herman left off, retiring the side in order while striking out two. His fastball was his go-to pitch, reaching 97 mph in the inning.
Another pitching change proved to be unfortunate for Lakeland. A leadoff walk by Escanio and a hit-by-pitch put the Tarpns in business. After a groundout by Serna, Rodriguez hit a SAC fly to left field that brought in the Tarpons' fourth run of the game. A 412-foot moonshot off the bat of 1B Omar Martinez added to the Tarpons’ lead. His second home run in as many days.
Tampa called on RHP Geoffrey Gilbert to finish off the game. He allowed the only Lakeland run on a Santana single.
The Tarpons take on the Flying Tigers in the rubber game tomorrow with RHP Justin Lange on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. at George M. Steinbrenner Field.