TAMPA, Fla. -- After a comeback win in Dunedin on Tuesday night, the Tampa Yankees were one win shy of a title. The Blue Jays had other ideas. Dunedin completed a doubleheader sweep in Tampa, winning 4-1 and 5-3, to become 2017 Florida State League Co-Champions on Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
RHP Albert Abreu made the start for Tampa in Game 2 of the series and kept the Blue Jays off the board over the first three innings, stranding three walks.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled off Abreu to open the fourth and, after a walk by Connor Panas, both runners advanced on a groundout to second by Juan Kelly. Cavan Biggio followed with a two-run single into right, but was thrown out stretching for second by right-fielder Alexander Palma . A fly-out by Edward Olivares ended the inning.
Gosuke Katoh began the home half of the fourth with a single to center. One out later, Katoh was caught stealing with Estevan Florial at the plate. Florial proceeded to hook a single into right and successfully stole second, but Biggio made a diving stop of a Tim Lynch grounder at second base and ended the Tampa threat.
Abreu (L, 0-1) bounced back with a perfect fifth and pitched into the sixth, leaving with a runner at first and two outs. The 21-year-old allowed two earned runs on three hits in five and two-third innings, walking four while striking out five and throwing 42 of 71 pitches for strikes.
RHP Hobie Harris relieved Abreu and got a groundout from Kelly to end the sixth. In the seventh, Biggio led off with a home run over the wall in right-center.
Florial put Tampa on the board with a leadoff blast in the seventh, but Dunedin got the run back when Guerrero Jr. drilled a two-out, solo shot to left in the eighth.
Jordan Romano (W, 1-0) made a quality start, holding the Yankees to one earned run on five hits in six and a third innings. The right-hander issued one walk without recording a strikeout and threw 52 of 87 pitches for strikes.
LHP Kirby Snead (SV, 1) relieved Romano with two outs in the seventh and retired six of the seven batters he faced, yielding one hit while strikeout out three in two and a third frames to close out the game.
49 minutes later, the decisive Game 3 got underway. RHP Erik Swanson and RHP T.J. Zeuch traded perfect innings in the first.
In the second, Dunedin grabbed the lead with a leadoff homer by Panas.
Tampa capitalized on an error by Bichette to tie the game in the fourth. Kyle Holder hustled for second after his ground ball hit off the shortstop's glove and landed into shallow center. A groundout by Katoh moved Holder to third before Trey Amburgey pulled a line drive single into left, plating the tying run.
Zeuch got a strikeout and a fly out to end the fourth and complete his outing. The 22-year-old held Tampa to one unearned run on one hit in four innings, walking one while striking out one and throwing 31 of 50 pitches for strikes.
Tampa grabbed the lead against RHP Conor Fisk with one out in the fifth when Dalton Blaser blasted a solo homer over the wall in right-center. The 23-year-old's second home run of the series put the Yankees ahead, 2-1.
Swanson retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced in a quality start. The 23-year-old held Dunedin to one earned run on one hit in six innings, walking three while striking out six and throwing 61 of 88 pitches for strikes.
LHP Caleb Frare relieved Swanson in the seventh and was greeted by Panas' second home run of the game. The 24-year-old's third homer of the series knotted the game at 2-2. Frare later stranded a two-out single and struck out the side to end the inning.
Lynch bounced a ground-rule double off the warning track in left-center to begin the bottom of the seventh, but was thrown out at third by Fisk on a bunt toward the mound by Sands. A base hit by Blaser put two on with one out, but Fisk got a pop-out by Palma and a strikeout of Park to end the frame.
D.J. Davis lined a leadoff single off Frare to open the eighth, prompting Tampa to bring in RHP Jordan Foley . After a strikeout of Bichette, Davis swiped second. Foley then struck out Biggio before getting Guerrero Jr. to ground out to end the threat.
Katoh won a 13-pitch battle with Fisk by lining a one-out single in the eighth. RHP Zach Jackson entered in relief and got a pop-out from Amburgey. Katoh stole second in front of a walk by Florial, but the inning ended on a wild play. Lynch skied a pop-up foul of first base and Biggio ranged towards the wall. The ball popped out of Biggio's glove and Kelly caught the rebound.
Foley (L, 0-1) issued a walk to Kelly, flanked by a pair of strikeouts in the ninth. Olivares singled off the diving glove of Holder at shortstop, keeping the inning alive. Kelly then scored the go-ahead run on a blooper to left by Jake Thomas. An errant throw in by Amburgey placed runners at second and third and both scored when Davis flicked a double down the left field line, giving Dunedin a 5-2 lead.
Sands pulled a double off the left field wall to begin the bottom of the ninth. One out later, Palma grounded a single into center, scoring Sands and bringing the tying run to the plate. Jackson (W, 1-0) got a pair of fly outs to center from Park and Holder to close out the game.
Blaser (2-for-6, HR, BB, RBI, R) led the Yankees by batting .444 (4-for-9) while Florial (2-for-6, HR, 2BB, RBI, R, SB) hit .400 (4-for-10) in the three-game series. Katoh (3-for-7, BB, SB) also collected four hits in the series, batting .308 (4-for-13).
Despite falling short of repeating as North Division Champions, the T-Yanks enjoyed a historic 2017 season. The Yankees tallied a franchise-record 85 wins and Tampa pitchers collected 1,215 strikeouts to break the FSL single-season record. The T-Yanks look forward to returning to action in 2018.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.