TAMPA Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (23-30) split Wednesday’s double header against the Palm Beach Cardinals (21-30) at George M. Steinbrenner Field. It was a tale of two completely different tapes for the Tarpons, who used an early offensive barrage to capture the opener but found themselves completely shut out
TAMPA Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (23-30) split Wednesday’s double header against the Palm Beach Cardinals (21-30) at George M. Steinbrenner Field. It was a tale of two completely different tapes for the Tarpons, who used an early offensive barrage to capture the opener but found themselves completely shut out in the nightcap.
The Tarpons treated the home crowd to a dominating performance in game one, powering their way to a 13-3 victory over the Cardinals. Tampa’s bats were alive early and often, racking up 11 total hits with six of them coming with runners in scoring position. RF Alan Mejia had a field day for the home team – finishing the game with a double, a home run and four RBIs.
RHP Tyrone Yulie toed the rubber for the Tarpons in the early contest and produced another quality outing. The right-hander lasted 4.1 innings, surrendering two runs over three hits while striking out five Cardinals.
The action began in the second inning with a line drive double off the bat of 1B Anthony Garcia, and 3B Macros Cabrera followed up by drawing a full count walk. With two runners on and two out, Mejia began his big night with a double to deep right field to plate both runners. Mejia would come around to score after CF Raimfer Salinas smoked an RBI double of his own to right field. SS Alexander Vargas drew a four-pitch free pass which ended the night for Cardinals’ starter Trent Baker (3-5). Jose Moreno relieved Baker but could not stop the bleeding. CF Jasson Dominguez drew a walk to load the bases, and C Antonio Gomez worked a walk as well to score Salinas. Garcia came back to the plate as the Tarpons batted around and ripped an RBI single to right, increasing the lead to 6-0.
Tampa added two more runs in the bottom off the third, as Salinas drove in 2B Ben Cowles and LF Grant Richardson on a ground ball single off Alfredo Ruiz.
The Cardinals did not touch Yulie until the top of the fifth inning. Jhon Torres led off with a single to center field and came around to score on Darlin Moquete’s two-run blast. The Cardinals’ right fielder absolutely crushed the 1-1 offering over the left field fence, shrinking the deficit to six runs.
That would spell the end of Yulie’s night as manager Rachael Balkovec called upon LHP Ryan Anderson (2-2) to take over. Anderson allowed only one hit and one walk, while striking out two batters over 1.2IP.
The Tarpons immediately answered with a power surge of their own as Cowles led off the bottom half of the fifth with a no-doubt solo shot that bounced off the batter’s eye. Mejia deposited his first home run off the season into the left field seats just two batters later to put the Tarpons in double digits.
The sixth inning was just as fruitful for the Tarpons, who would not let up despite their considerable lead. Garcia and Cabrera drew back-to-back walks off Nelfri Contreras and advanced one station on Cowles’ line drive single to right. With the bases juiced, Contreras walked Richardson to plate a runner. Mejia dug in next and continued his hot night at the plate with another run producing hit. Lastly, Vargas was able to drive the first pitch he saw for an RBI single, and the Tarpons’ advantage ballooned to 13-2.
RHP Bailey Dees came in to wrap things up in the seventh and found himself in a tiny bit of trouble. Dees walked Sander Mora and Moquete to lead off the inning. Osvaldo Tovalin reached base on a fielding error by Garcia at first which allowed Mora to score. Dees would go on to hit the next batter with a pitch before inducing a ground ball double play to solidify the victory.
The Tarpons were unable to carry their offensive momentum into the nightcap, dropping the second game of their doubleheader to the Cardinals, 7-0. It felt like a scene right out of Freaky Friday, where both teams seemingly switched places. The Tarpons’ bats had cooled off tremendously – meanwhile, the Cardinals found the power they lacked in game one and capitalized by launching three long balls off Tampa pitching.
RHP Yon Castro (2-3) drew the start for game two and was serviceable through five innings. Castro’s final stat line does not necessarily tell the story of his night. The young righty only gave up one run over his first four innings of work, surrendering a home run to Brady Whalen in the first inning.
The Cardinals jumped on Castro in the fifth – Brandon Hernandez drew a lead-off walk, and Adanson Cruz singled on a line drive to Alan Mejia in left. With two men on, Darlin Moquete demolished Castro’s 3-1 pitch to left center field for a 3-run blast to put the Cardinals up 4-0.
The Tarpons tried mustering up a rally in the fifth after loading the bases with one out, but DH Antonio Gomez grounded into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
RHP Jack Neely replaced Castro to begin the top of the sixth and was immediately greeted by Matt Chamberlain, who drove a moonshot the opposite way deep into the Tampa sunset. Neely recuperated quickly and struck out three batters during his lone inning on the mound.
The Cardinals tacked on two more off RHP Danny Watson in the last inning for good measure. Watson walked Cruz, who advanced to second on a single by Moquete. A wild pitch would move the runners over but it did not matter much as Watson would go on to walk Osvaldo Tovalin to load the bases. Watson failed to throw Whalen a single strike and walked a runner in. Chamberlain put the finishing touches on with a sacrifice fly to center, and the Cardinals went on to win 7-0.
The Tarpons return to action tomorrow night against the Palm Beach Cardinals for game three of their six game set. RHP Juan Carela is slated to make the start for the Tarpons with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30 PM EST.