BRADENTON, Fla. -- Connor Spencer reached base three times, but the rest of the Tampa Yankees (1-2) struggled against RHP Mitch Keller in a shutout loss, 9-0, to the Bradenton Marauders (2-1) on Sunday night at McKechnie Field.
Monday night's Game 4 is now a "must-win" for the T-Yanks, who will look to send the best-of-five Florida State League Championship Series to a decisive Game 5.
Keller (W, 2-0) held the Yankees to four hits and two walks and faced two batters over the minimum over eight shutout innings. The right-hander struck out one and threw 50 of 81 pitches for strikes.
The Marauders loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk with one out in the top of the first. Chase Simpson grounded a two-run single into right field and Connor Joe followed with an RBI double to right. A sacrifice fly into deep centerfield by Jordan Luplow capped the scoring in a four-run inning by Bradenton.
RHP Yefrey Ramirez (L, 0-1) bounced back with a 1-2-3 frame in the second, but ran into further trouble in the next inning. Jerrick Suiter singled and scored on a two-out two-run home run by Joe, giving the Marauders a 6-0 lead.
After a single by Luplow, RHP Cody Hamlin entered in relief of Ramirez and finished the third.
Ramirez was tagged with six earned runs on seven hits in two and two-third innings, walking one and striking out three. The righty threw 50 of 69 pitches for strikes.
Bradenton reloaded the bases with one out in the fourth. Hamlin surrendered a sacrifice fly but escaped further damage by striking out Joe. The righty continued into the fifth and retired the side in order.
RHP Sean Carley took over in the sixth and retired 11 of the first 14 batters he faced, scattering two hits and a walk while working into the ninth. Carley then walked Joe and Luplow followed with a two-run home run before RHP Eduardo Rivera entered in the ninth and finished the inning.
RHP Sam Street worked around a leadoff walk and retired the side in the ninth, completing the shutout for Bradenton.
Spencer (2-for-2, BB) reached base in all three of his plate appearances. Thairo Estrada (1-for-4) and Trey Amburgey (1-for-3) collected the other two Tampa hits.
The T-Yanks will give the ball to LHP Josh Rogers (0-0, 4.76 ERA) to start the "win or go home" Game 4. RHP John Brubaker (2-6, 5.32 ERA) is slated to start for the Marauders. Tampa will be the "home" team at McKechnie Field. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.