Viera, Fla. - The Brevard County Space Explorers (13-14) scored seven runs in the third inning en route to an 8-4 victory over the Tampa Yankees (15-13) on Thursday night at Space Coast Stadium.
With the Yankees leading 1-0, Jose Pena stepped to the plate to lead off the third inning against Tampa starter Chaz Hebert. Pena launched a solo home run to left to tie the game. It was Pena's first homer of the season. Angel Ortega then singled to left and Omar Garcia pushed a bunt single past the mound towards second to put two on with nobody out. A Chris McFarland walk loaded the bases. The next batter, Taylor Brennan, laced a single to center field. Ortega and Garcia scored; center fielder Mark Payton bobbled the ball and allowed Brennan and McFarland to advance to second and third, respectively. Clint Coulter then drilled an RBI single to left to plate McFarland and move Brennan up to third. The Space Explorers led 4-1. Hebert struck out Victor Roache and Garrett Cooper. Rafael Neda stepped to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs. Neda roped a three-run home run over the left field wall to make it 7-1 Space Explorers For Neda, it was his first home run of the year. Brevard County sent 11 men to the plate in the third and scored seven runs on six hits.
After the explosive inning, Brevard County starter Hiram Burgos (2-3, 3.67 ERA) allowed a leadoff walk to Mike Ford and back-to-back singles to Mark Payton and Danny Oh. Oh's RBI single scored Ford and cut the Space Explorers lead to five. Burgos settled down nicely, however. He got Ericson Leonora to bounce into a double play and fanned Kyle Higashioka to end the frame. Burgos recorded the win. He allowed two runs on four hits and two walks over six innings. He struck out seven. He is now tied for the Florida State League lead with 41 strikeouts on the season.
The Space Explorers added to the lead in the seventh inning. Coulter started the frame with a single to left. Roache and Cooper walked consecutively to load the bases with nobody out. Neda drove in another run on a sacrifice fly to right. The Space Explorers led 8-2.
Tampa's Miguel Andujar hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to complete the scoring.
Hebert (2-2, 5.94) was hit with the loss. He recorded just two outs in the third inning and surrendered seven runs on six hits.
Stephen Peterson recorded a three-inning save for his first save of the year. He gave up the two-run homer to Andujar, but nothing more. Peterson fanned three.
The Space Explorers and the Yankees will continue the series tomorrow at Space Coast Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Wei-Chung Wang (1-1, 6.04 ERA) will toe the rubber for Brevard County. Tampa will send Jonathan Holder to the mound.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.