TAMPA, Fla. (July 15, 2017) - Justin Ellison mashed two home runs on Saturday night, but the Florida Fire Frogs were not able to complete the comeback against the Tampa Yankees in a 5-4 loss at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The Fire Frogs, as a team, left the yard three times, but finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the series-opening defeat.
Tampa (11-9, 50-40) took the early lead against Andres Santiago (2-5) with a four-spot in the second frame. The Yankees sent nine men to the plate, recorded three hits and drew two walks against the Fire Frogs' right-hander to put the visitors in a 4-0 hole.
Santiago needed 33 pitches in the four-run second, but required just 34 pitches to work through his final four frames on the night. The 27-year-old finished his third start of the season at the High-A level with four runs allowed on six hits, two walks and two strikeouts across six innings of work.
Florida (9-12, 34-53) cut the deficit in half with back-to-back solo shots from Braxton Davidson (1x3, R, HR, RBI, BB) and Ellison (2x4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI) in the third. Saturday was the fifth time this season the Fire Frogs put together back-to-back home runs, and the Davidson had been involved in the occurrence.
The Fire Frogs grabbed another run in the fifth on a two-out double to the wall in right off the bat of Alay Lago (1x5, 2B, RBI), plating Anfernee Seymour (1x4, R, BB) from first to pull Florida within a run.
Brandon White made his team debut on Saturday night, and worked a perfect seventh. The 22-year-old allowed a solo home run off the bat of Tim Lynch in the eighth to give the Yankees another two-run advantage.
Ellison brought Florida within a run with his second solo blast of the night in the ninth against Jose Mesa (SV, 3) for his first career multi-home run performance. Ray-Patrick Didder (1x4, BB, 2 SB) reached second with one out to move the tying run into scoring position, but Seymour struck out and Lago grounded out to third to leave the runner in scoring position.
Dillon Tate (4-0) earned his second win of the season against Florida, as the 2015 first-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers allowed three runs on six hits, three walks and four strikeouts across 6.1 innings of work for the quality start.
Tampa's starter gave way to Raynel Espinal with runners at second and third one out in the seventh, with the reliever striking out Lago and getting Alex Jackson (0x4) to fly out to right to end the Fire Frogs' threat.
Florida will look to even the series at a game apiece in the middle matchup on Sunday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field. RHP Enderson Franco (3-4, 5.26) goes for the Fire Frogs I game two against the Yankees' LHP Ian Clarkin (3-4, 2.62). First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m, with coverage starting at 12:15 p.m. on the Florida Fire Frogs Broadcasting Network.
Florida returns to Osceola County Stadium for a seven-game homestand starting Tuesday, July 18, with game one featuring another matchup against Lakeland. Game one of the three-game series will be "Fire Rum Tuesday" at the ballpark, where fans can enjoy $3 Fire Rum mixed drinks and $2 tostones. Every Monday through Wednesday game at Osceola County Stadium is "Service Industry Night," where members of the service industry can access the home stadium of the Florida Fire Frogs at a discounted rate.
About the Florida Fire Frogs
The Florida Fire Frogs are the Advanced-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves and compete in the Florida State League. The Fire Frogs play their home games at Osceola County Stadium, located at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla. For more information, please visit www.FloridaFireFrogs.com, and follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.