TAMPA, Fla. - The Brevard County Manatees four-game winning streak came to an end, as the Tampa Yankees came out on top with an 11-1 victory at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday night.
Tampa's (31-28 second half, 64-65 overall) bats, which collected 11 hits in the first two games of the series against Brevard County (29-28, 65-58) at Space Coast Stadium, exploded for 11 runs on 18 hits.
After both teams put up zeroes in the first, the Yankees pieced together some timely hitting. Jose Rosario walked and Ericson Leonora singled to start the attack for Tampa in the second. With runners at first and second, Mike Ford then hit a chopping ball to first base.
Initially looking like a possible double play, the ball took a bizarre hop off the infield dirt before caroming off Manatees first baseman Garrett Cooper's shoulder. As the ball rolled towards the outfield, Rosario hustled to score all the way from second to give the Yankees the lead, 1-0.
A two-out base knock in the third brought home another run for Tampa. Manatees starter Mike Strong (2-2, 2.67 ERA) sandwiched an Aaron Judge double around a pair of strikeouts, but could not emerge unscathed. Leonora smacked a base-hit through the hole on the left side to score Judge and make it 2-0, Yankees. However, the inning would end there, as Leonora was gunned down trying to advance to second on the relay throw to the plate.
Tampa then used the long ball to pad its advantage the rest of the way. Reymond Nunez, Mark Payton and Aaron Judge all went deep to bring home seven of the Yankees final nine runs.
Judge's blast in the eighth, which made it 11-1, was a titanic shot. The Yankees' third first-round pick from 2013, hammered a pitch from Brevard County reliever Trevor Seidenberger over the massive jumbotron in left for a three-run home run. Judge's clout was his eighth long ball with Tampa and 17th total.
Payton had a banner night, as well. The 2014 draftee out of Texas went 4-for-4 with a walk and a two-run homer to set a career-high in hits and total bases - seven - in a single game.
The Yankees pushed across their other two runs on a wild pitch in the seventh and an RBI single by Eric Jagielo in the eighth.
Strong would end up taking his first loss since he pitched in relief on June 6 against Bradenton. The southpaw allowed the first four Yankee runs on a career-high 10 hits in five innings. Strong also walked two and punched out six.
Brevard County's offense could not cash in despite having their fair share of opportunities. The Manatees recorded six hits and put at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first five innings, but Yankee starter Caleb Smith (4-1, 4.45) held them without a run.
The 'Tees tallied their only run in the sixth, once Smith was removed from the ballgame. The Sam Houston State alum allowed two other baserunners on walks and struck out five in the victory.
Trailing 4-0, Brevard County had a chance to tie the game against reliever Philip Walby in that sixth inning, but was unable to do so. With the bases loaded and one out, Parker Berberet broke up the shutout with a run-scoring single to left, but that was all the 'Tees would get. Walby struck out Brandon Macias and forced Nathan Orf to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice to quell the rally.
The Manatees finished the night with nine hits, but left 12 runners on-base. The team's hitting struggles with runners in scoring position continued, as the team went 1-for-12 in that situation on Wednesday night.
Brevard was led by Berberet, Victor Roache and Orlando Arcia, all three of which had multi-hit nights. Alfredo Rodriguez and Tyrone Taylor picked up base-knocks as well to extend their hitting streaks to six and eight games, respectively.
The Manatees and Yankees will wrap up their season series tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Jorge Lopez (9-8, 3.86) will get the start and looks to become the third Brevard County pitcher to reach double-digits in wins. He will be opposed by right-hander Brett Gerritse (4-7, 3.97).