Cornelius gets Yankees even in FSL Finals

First base prospect hits go-ahead single in seventh inning in Game 2

Kevin Cornelius has four extra-base hits and three RBIs in five playoff games. (Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Yankees)

By Kirsten Karbach / Special to | September 10, 2016 10:18 PM

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Kevin Cornelius stepped to the plate in a tie game in the seventh inning on Saturday, his team trailing in the Florida State League Championship Series. On a payoff pitch, he delivered, singling in the go-ahead run as Tampa topped Bradenton, 5-4, at McKechnie Field.

The Yankees evened the best-of-5 Finals at one win apiece after dropping Friday's series opener, 8-1.

The Yankees had put runners at the corners with one out in seventh before Bradenton reliever Nick Neumann struck out Rashad Crawford. The Marauders went to the bullpen again, calling on Tate Scioneaux to face Cornelius. After a pair of near misses pushed the count full, the 24-year-old first baseman laced a single to left to score Thairo Estrada.

"We knew that he was a fastball pitcher, so that was pretty much what I was looking for," Cornelius said. "Got a couple outside, couple close pitches, and he left one over the plate."

The 2013 31st-round pick finished 2-for-5 after delivering a leadoff single in a three-run fourth against starter Austin Coley.

"The middle of our order is always pretty aggressive, and with a guy like that who's throwing strikes, it's necessary to get on him whenever you're in a fastball count, to look fastball and be aggressive with fastballs," said Cornelius, who's batting .273 with four extra-base hits and three RBIs in five playoff games.

The contest was a tight throughout, as the Marauders twice rallied to tie it. With the game knotted at 4-4 in the sixth, Justin Kamplain delivered in a key spot out of the Tampa bullpen. The left-hander inherited runners on the corners and retired Pirates No. 18 prospect Kevin Kramer on a fly ball to center field.

"That was probably the turning point in the game," Yankees manager Pat Osborn said.

Kamplain exited after recording a pair of groundouts in the seventh, handing it to Jordan Foley and Dillon McNamara for the final seven outs. The pair allowed one baserunner, with McNamara pitching a perfect ninth to earn the save.

"They've been here since day one," Osborn said of Foley and McNamara. "They've settled in as the two guys we want at the end of the game in a close game."

Bradenton peppered Yankees starter Luis Cedeno with three solo homers, one each from Jordan Luplow, Michael Suchy and Kramer. The Marauders have hit seven long balls in four postseason contests.

Cedeno gave Tampa five innings, yielding three runs on six hits in his Florida State League debut.

With the Yankees' stadium being renovated, Game 3 is Sunday in Bradenton. Pirates No. 5 prospect Mitch Keller will pitch for the Marauders against Yefrey Ramirez.

Kirsten Karbach is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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