TAMPA, Fla. - The Brevard County Manatees put the go-ahead run on base in the ninth, but could not complete the comeback in a 6-4 loss to the Tampa Yankees on Thursday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Trailing 6-1 with one out in the final frame, Parker Berberet incited the rally with a single to center. Garrett Cooper and Brandon Macias followed that up with a pair of singles of their own to load the bases.
With the tying run now on deck, Nathan Orf worked the count full and drew a walk to force home a run. Berberet scored from third and the Manatees (21-23 second half, 57-53 overall) cut the lead down to 6-2.
That was the last pitch Yankees (24-23, 57-60) reliever Brady Lail would throw, as manager Al Pedrique called upon closer Alex Smith from the bullpen.
Smith, who picked up the save on Tuesday night, was greeted rudely by Orlando Arcia. The 20-year old cranked a 2-2 pitch from the righty into the left-center field gap.
Cooper and Macias raced home and Orf stopped at third. Arica motored into second with a double and all of a sudden Brevard County was only down 6-4 and now had the tying run in scoring position.
Tyrone Taylor would then hit a little dribbler down the third base line. Tampa third baseman Eric Jagielo was all set to let the ball roll foul, but at the last second it kicked fair.
The Yankees first-round pick from last year made a hurried throw on to first, but the speedy Taylor beat it out. Neither Orf nor Arcia were able to advance, so the bases were loaded for Michael Reed.
However, that was as close as Brevard would get. Smith bore down and struck out both Reed and Victor Roache on eight total pitches to close out the game and record his fifth save of the year.
Tampa had some runs to work with thanks to the four runs they scored in the first four frames.
After Manatees starter Tyler Wagner (11-5, 1.76 ERA) retired the side in order in the first, the Yankees were able to get on board in the second courtesy of the long ball.
Following two strikeouts and a ground rule double to left-center by Matt Snyder, Wagner faced off with Tampa second baseman Angelo Gumbs.
On the first pitch, Gumbs jumped at a pitch left up in the zone and cranked it to left field. The ball carried over the wall and banged off the scoreboard for a two-run home run. The blast was Gumbs' fourth of the year and the Yankees held a 2-0 lead.
Tampa's offense caught fire again in the fourth. Following a lead-off walk, Snyder smoked an RBI double into the left field corner to push the Tampa advantage to three.
One batter later, Gumbs came through again. With Snyder now at third, thanks to a wild pitch, the California native lofted a ball down the right field line. Reed made the catch, but the runner was able to score on a sacrifice fly to put Tampa in front, 4-0.
That was the final run Wagner would allow. The right-hander yielded multiple earned runs in his first outing since June 3 in Charlotte against the Stone Crabs. As well, it was just the fifth time in 21 starts that Wagner left with his team behind on the scoreboard.
The right-hander lasted just five innings and allowed four runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out six in his fifth loss of the year and first since that evening in Charlotte.
Brevard's bullpen would issue the final two runs of the night. Aaron Judge delivered an RBI single to right in the seventh, while Gumbs smoked his second home run of the day, and fifth of the season, in the eighth.
In defeat, the Manatees' bats pieced together 15 hits. However, only one - Arcia's two-run double in the ninth - went for extra bases.
Brevard County had three players - Orf, Arcia and Cooper - with three hits and another two - Berberet and Macias - with two.
Orf reached base all five times he came to the dish, as he drew two walks, as well. The Baylor product also brought home the 'Tees first run with a single to center in the fifth.
Yankees starter Ian Clarkin (1-0, 1.80) picked up the win in his Florida State League debut. The left-hander went just five innings and allowed seven hits, but surrendered only one run. Clarkin walked one and struck out four in the victory.
Brevard County has an off day on Friday and will return to action with a doubleheader against the Clearwater Threshers (20-27, 37-78) on Saturday night. First pitch of game one at Space Coast Stadium is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.