TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (14-25) split Friday’s doubleheader with the Dunedin Blue Jays (21-17) at GMS Field. After a tough extra-inning defeat in game one, the Tarpons bounced back in game two thanks to a two-homer game from DH Jared Serna and five shutout innings from RHP Sean
TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (14-25) split Friday’s doubleheader with the Dunedin Blue Jays (21-17) at GMS Field. After a tough extra-inning defeat in game one, the Tarpons bounced back in game two thanks to a two-homer game from DH Jared Serna and five shutout innings from RHP Sean Hermann (2-4).
The Tarpons turned to last week's FSL Pitcher of the Week, RHP Justin Lange (4.0IP, 3H, 2R, 4BB, 8K), in game one of the twin bill. Lange had his strikeout stuff working again, this time fanning eight in his four innings of work. He used a six-pitch mix and relied on his slider as his putaway pitch. He had a whiff percentage of 83% on the slider.
The scoring got started right away for Dunedin. In the first, Adrian Pinto lined a single to right field to open the game and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a walk to Tucker Toman, Andres Sosa lined a base hit to center to bring in the game's first run.
Dunedin extended their lead in the third inning. Toman and Sosa reached base on a walk and hit by pitch. Sam Hernandez roped a double down the right-field line to grow the lead to two. After a walk to Glenn Santiago, the bases were loaded; Lange was able to tie up Abiezel Ramirez to escape the jam, only allowing one run.
The Blue Jays placed two runners in scoring position in the fifth after a single from Peyton Williams and an opposite-field double by Ryan McCarty. A productive SAC-fly off the bat of Santiago brought in Dunedin’s third run. RHP Ocean Gabonia took a comebacker off his arm but was able to recover to record the out and limit the damage.
A three-run rally in the sixth tied the game for the Tarpons. It all started with inning-opening singles from LF Anthony Hall and C Agustin Ramirez. DH Brenny Escanio knocked in Tampa’s first run with a base hit to right field. Tampa loaded the bases after CF Nelson Medina hit the Tarpons’ fourth single in a row. RF Tayler Aguilar worked a full-count walk to keep the bases juiced and bring Tampa within one. 2B Beau Brewer tied the game at three with a productive groundout that plated Escanio.
With the ghost runner starting at second base in the eighth, Pinto got plunked, and Toman ripped a ground-rule double over the left field wall to put Dunedin back on top.
Newly entered Jaden Rudd made an immediate impact. Escanio flew out to Rudd in right field, and he showed his cannon arm, throwing out the ghost runner (Brett Barrera) at third base to secure the victory for Dunedin.
RHP Sean Hermann (5.0IP, 2H, 3BB, 3K) took the ball in the nightcap and mowed down the Blue Jays lineup. He only allowed two hits in his masterful performance while limiting hard contact from the Jays. Blue Jay hitters were held to an average exit velocity of 85 MPH while Hermann was on the mound.
Stay hot Serna, stay hot! SS Jared Serna blasted his first home run of the night over the wall in right field to give the Tarpons an early one-run lead in the first. The first-inning solo shot left the bat at 103 MPH.
Dunedin threatened in the second. Robert Robertis drew a free pass, and Ryan McCarty laced a single to center field. After a balk and a walk, the bases were loaded. With the Sink or Swim promotion on the line, Hermann induced a groundout to keep the fans happy.
Crown him! Serna rounded the bases for a second time after lacing his second home run of the night and team-leading seventh of the season. As soon as Serna made it back to the dugout, his teammates were sure to put the celebratory home run crown on his head. The ball traveled 393 feet, which gave Tampa a two-run lead in the third frame.
RF Nelson Medina gave the fans flashbacks to Spring Training at GMS Field. He made an Aaron Judge-esque throw from the right field corner to nab Williams at second. Despite the great play, Dunedin did not give up in the sixth. The Blue Jays put together three singles in a row to cut the lead in half. With the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first, LHP Geoff Gilbert speared a comeback grounder to hold the lead.
Manager Rachel Balkovec called on RHP Cole Ayers (2 SV) to close out game two. With the game hanging in the balance and the tying run on third base, Ayers got Williams to chase a slider out of the zone to secure the victory for Tampa.
The Tarpons will close out the six-game series with the Blue Jays this Sunday at noon at George M. Steinbrenner Field. RHP Baron Stuart will take the hill looking to build off the game two victory.