TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (12-22) flexed their muscles in Tuesday’s contest against the Dunedin Blue Jays (18-16) as the offense broke out for twelve runs. After a tough road trip, the Tarpons returned home to George M. Steinbrenner Field, where there was no lack of power; the two
TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (12-22) flexed their muscles in Tuesday’s contest against the Dunedin Blue Jays (18-16) as the offense broke out for twelve runs. After a tough road trip, the Tarpons returned home to George M. Steinbrenner Field, where there was no lack of power; the two teams combined for nineteen runs. Tampa’s twelve-run explosion was led by SS Jared Serna, who picked up four hits, including his fifth home run of the year.
The Tarpons turned to RHP Hayden Merda (3.1IP, 4H, 5R, 5BB, K, HR), who struggled in his three-plus innings of work. He did not incorporate many off-speed pitches, as they only accounted for 11% of his total pitch usage. He also did not net many swings and misses (6), but the offensive production overshadowed the mediocre start.
The scoring began right away for Tampa. Serna’s red-hot hitting continued as he opened the bottom of the first with a base hit through the left side. RF Anthony Hall showed off his opposite-field power, hammering a ground-rule double over the fence in left-center. C Agustin Ramirez drove home the first run of the night when he sent Robertis all the way to the right field warning track for a SAC-fly that advanced both runners. LF Daury Arias kept the runs coming by grounding an RBI single back up the middle.
Dunedin answered right back in the second. Jalen Rudd worked a leadoff walk and swiped second base. Abiezel Ramirez launched a homerun to right field to knot the score at two.
Manuel Beltre looped a single to open the third frame. After a fielder's choice, Tucker Toman was on first base and showed off his speed when Peyton Williams lined a double down the left-field line. Toman scored all the way from first, giving Dunedin the lead. Dunedin loaded the bases after an error and a walk. Merda escaped the threat when he got Nic Deschamps to ground out to first base.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the home half of the third. Serna absolutely destroyed a home run off the scoreboard in left field. It was his fifth homer of the season, which leads all Tarpons hitters. After a walk to Hall, Ramirez roped a 104 MPH single past the diving Toman to put runners on the corners for Tampa. Arias plated both runners with another base hit to left field; however, he was out trying to stretch the single into a double.
After retiring the first batter in the fourth, Merda walked two batters, which prompted a pitching change. Manager Rachel Balkovec called on RHP Shane Gray. Toman greeted Gray with an RBI knock to center field to cut the lead to one. The bases were loaded after another walk, this time to Williams. Of course, another walk followed, which tied the game at five. And again, another walk to give Dunedin the lead. Gray was able to find his command and strike out the next two batters to hold the deficit at one.
1B Omar Martinez started the fourth with a single to right field and advanced to second when Robertis bobbled the ball out in the right field corner. Beltre made a sensational play, catching a sinking line drive while keeping a foot on the bag to record a double play. After the double play, Tampa started a two-out rally. Singes from 3B Brett Barrera and Serna brought up Hall. He picked up his second hit of the day, blasting a home run off the right-field foul pole to give Tampa a two-run lead.
The bats stayed hot in the fifth. 2B Brenny Escanio hit a ground-rule double to right center. He swiped third base, and CF Nelson Medina ripped a base hit up the middle to give Tampa a three-run lead. Medina reached third on a funky play as he took off stealing, but the pitch was wild and allowed him to reach third. Tampa extended the lead to four when DH Taylor Aguilar punched another base hit up the middle.
Toman led off the sixth with a walk. He stayed at first until there were two away, and Dunedin executed a hit-and-run. With Toman running, Ramirez doubled down the left-field line to cut into the Tarpons’ lead.
In the sixth, Serna picked up his fourth hit of the night and advanced to second on a groundout from Hall. He caused Pat Gallagher some trouble by taking a big lead off of second base and was able to take third as Deschamps threw down to second. The throw to second was wild, and Serna came around to score, giving Tampa a four-run lead.
RHP Manny Ramirez came in for the seventh and loaded the bases with only one out. He looked like a magician, working tricks to get out of the jam. He struck out Toman and got Williams to ground out to escape the trouble.
The third home run of the night for Tampa came in the seventh inning when Martinez smoked a solo shot that traveled 343 feet. The four-bagger gave Tampa a 12-7 lead that would hold for the rest of the night.
The Tarpons will look to keep the offense rolling tomorrow as they host the Blue Jays for game two of the six-game series.