TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (24-31) were left searching for answers at the plate, dropping Friday’s contest to the Palm Beach Cardinals (22-31) at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 3-2. Tampa’s offense was punchless most of the game, mustering up only two hits off Cardinals’ starter Inohan Paniagua (3-3). The
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (24-31) were left searching for answers at the plate, dropping Friday’s contest to the Palm Beach Cardinals (22-31) at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 3-2. Tampa’s offense was punchless most of the game, mustering up only two hits off Cardinals’ starter Inohan Paniagua (3-3). The 22-year-old righty put on a pitching clinic, fanning 14 Tarpons over seven strong innings of work.
RHP Richard Fitts (0-5) drew the start for the Tarpons, still in search of his first win of the season. The Cardinals presented Fitts with some early trouble in the top of the second inning. Matt Chamberlain led off the frame with a full count walk and advanced to second base on a single by Jeremy Rivas. With two men on and two out, Elijah Cabell drove the first pitch he saw all the way to the scoreboard for a 3-run shot.
Fitts found himself with his back against the wall in the third as well, loading the bases with only one out. The righty quickly gathered himself and punched out back-to-back Cardinals to end the inning.
LF Grant Richardson put the Tarpons on the board in the bottom of the third with a solo blast to dead center field to cut the deficit to two runs.
Fitts’ made it through five innings, allowing three earned runs over four hits and two walks. He struck out six Cardinals before manager Rachel Balkovec called upon RHP Trevor Holloway in relief.
Hollaway was effective on the bump, tossing two scoreless innings to keep things close. RHP Kevin Milam also made an appearance spanning two innings, striking out four batters over the course of his outing.
The Tarpons were desperate to generate offense and finally scratched another run across the plate in the bottom of the eighth. 2B Ben Cowles slapped the 1-2 offering from Cardinals’ reliever Hayes Heinecke to shortstop and managed to reach on an infield single. Heinecke beaned Richardson the next at-bat and suddenly, the Tarpons were threatening. DH Connor Cannon made decent contact for a seeing-eye single past the left side of the infield to score Cowles, and the Tarpons trailed by just one.
With their rally caps activated, the Tarpons headed into the bottom of the ninth looking to steal one from Palm Beach. CF Jasson Dominguez managed to get aboard by dropping in a single in front of Cabell in left field. Dominguez advanced to second on a wild pitch and stole third base to put the pressure on. Unfortunately, 1B Anthony Garcia lined into a double play – Brady Whalen gloved the liner at first base and threw behind Dominguez at third for the final out.
With the season series is split at two a-piece, the Tarpons and Cardinals return to action tomorrow night for game five of their six game set. RHP Chandler Champlain (1-3, 3.51 ERA) is expected to make the start for the Tarpons with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 PM EST.