TAMPA (August 28, 2013) - The Clearwater Threshers suffered a pair of 2-0 losses at the hands of the Tampa Yankees, as Clearwater was swept by Tampa in a doubleheader on Wednesday night at Steinbrenner Field. The Yankees whitewashed the Threshers in seven innings in game one, before walking off on a Peter O'Brien long ball in the bottom of the ninth inning of game two.
The Threshers (66-64, 31-32) compiled 15 hits on the day, but failed to push a run across against the Yankees (56-74, 28-34). With the wins, Tampa earned a split of the season series with Clearwater at nine games apiece.
In the opener, Tampa moved ahead 1-0 with a run off Ethan Stewart (1-6) in the second inning. Cody Grice reached on an infield single to begin the frame, and Tyson Blaser stroked a base hit of his own to left. Both runners advanced 90 feet on Jose Toussen's soft chopper back to the hill, and a grounder to second off the bat of Ali Castillo allowed Grice to score the day's first run.
The same part of the order came through for the Yankees in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Grice and Blaser connected for consecutive singles to set up men at the corners. Toussen bounced a slow comebacker to the hill that caromed off the glove of a leaping Stewart, and Jose Mojica charged in from short to throw out Toussen at first. Grice scored on the play to make it 2-0 Tampa.
Clearwater threatened in the seventh, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate against reliever Taylor Garrison. Cameron Perkins rolled a single under the mitt of shortstop Cito Culver and, after Brock Stassi reached on a forceout, Harold Martinez slapped a single the opposite way to right.
With men on first and second, Garrison dealt a wild pitch allowing both runners to move into scoring position, but got Bob Stumpo to pop out and Mojica to line out to left to end the game.
Stewart turned in his third straight solid outing, working all six innings for Clearwater. The lefty walked just two and allowed two runs on six hits while striking out four, but was charged with the loss.
Rony Bautista (1-0) worked five shutout frames for Tampa in his hi-A debut, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out three. The 6'7" lefty was making his first appearance above the GCL. Garrison completed two scoreless innings to earn his eighth save.
Game two remained 0-0 all the way into the bottom of the ninth.
Culver singled to start the inning off Threshers reliever Colton Murray (5-7). Castillo followed by popping up a bunt attempt which was caught by catcher Logan Moore, and Culver was then caught stealing for the second out.
Robert Refsnyder however kept the inning going by scratching out an infield single, setting the stage for O'Brien. The Yankees third baseman turned on a 1-0 Murray offering and sent his 10th home run of the year out to left, giving Tampa its 15th walk-off win of the season.
Alejandro Arteaga had the start and turned in a terrific outing in his Threshers debut. The 19-year old righty would not factor in the decision, but tossed six shutout innings of two-hit ball, striking out four and issuing just two walks.
Alex Smith (2-2) managed to work around a runners-at-the-corners, one-out scenario in the top half of the ninth to earn the win. A Stassi double and a one-out error on Smith had put Clearwater in prime position to take the lead, but Smith got Logan Moore to strike out and Jiwan James to fly out to end the inning.
Clearwater will open its final series of the season on Thursday, as the Threshers head to Dunedin to take on the Blue Jays at 6:30 p.m. Hoby Milner (12-6) will toe the rubber for Clearwater in game one.