DUNEDIN, Fla. -- In dramatic, comeback fashion, the Tampa Yankees dug out of an early 5-0 hole by storming back with eight-straight runs en route to an 8-6 win over the Dunedin Blue Jays in 10 innings, claiming Game 1 of the Florida State League North Division Championship Series on Tuesday night at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Tampa tied the game with two outs in the ninth when Kyle Holder lined an RBI single into right off closer Jackson McClelland. In the 10th, Tim Lynch blasted a go-ahead, two-run homer off McClelland. It was one of four home runs hit by the Yankees.
The Blue Jays had their way against Tampa starter Brian Keller . Bo Bichette led off the first with a walk and advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw by Keller. Michael De La Cruz followed with an RBI single. After an infield hit by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Connor Panas blasted a three-run homer over the right field wall. Later in the frame, Cavan Biggio drew a walk and scored on a double into the left field corner by Jake Thomas.
RHP Adonis Rosa relieved Keller with two outs in the first and got Andres Sotillo to ground out to end the inning. The 22-year-old went on to hold Dunedin scoreless into the seventh, giving the T-Yanks a chance to battle back.
Gosuke Katoh got the offense going, crushing a solo homer with one out in the fourth off Blue Jays' starter Josh DeGraaf.
Trey Amburgey followed with a single before Estevan Florial reached a fielding error by DeGraaf, placing runners at first and second. DeGraff escaped by getting Lynch and Donny Sands to pop-out. Tampa put two more runners aboard in the fifth, but a pair of strikeouts helped DeGraaf strand them both.
Florial blasted a triple off the wall in right-center with one out in the sixth and later scored on a passed ball by Sotillo, cutting the deficit to 5-2.
DeGraaf posted a quality start for the Blue Jays, yielding two earned runs on five hits in six innings. The right-hander walked one while tying a season-high with seven strikeouts and throwing 55 of 94 pitches for strikes.
Making his Tampa debut, Dalton Blaser singled in the fifth for his first hit. In the seventh, the 23-year-old greeted reliever Alonzo Gonzalez by crushing a leadoff home run over the right field wall. One out later, Hoy Jun Park belted a homer over the same wall, bringing the Yankees to within one run of tying the game.
Rosa scattered four hits over six shutout innings, striking out seven without yielding a walk and throwing 64 of 94 pitches for strikes. LHP Trevor Lane took over with two outs in the seventh and struck out four of five batters faced, stranding a two-out double by Edward Olivares in a scoreless eighth.
After Dunedin reliever Kirby Snead retired all five batters faced in the seventh and eighth, the Blue Jays brought in McClelland with a 5-4 lead in the ninth. Sands greeted the righty with a single into right and was promptly pinch-ran for by Terrance Robertson . A sacrifice bunt by Blaser pushed the tying run to second. After a groundout by Alexander Palma, Park worked a walk to bring up Holder.
McClelland's first offering to Holder fell short of the plate and Robertson took third on the pitch in the dirt. On the next pitch, Holder pulled a line drive just passed a diving Biggio at second base, knotting the score at 5-5.
RHP Matt Frawley entered in the ninth for Tampa and Sotillo drew a leadoff walk. D.J. Davis pinch-ran for Sotillo, but was promptly forced out at second as Bichette reached on a fielder's choice. Frawley got De La Cruz to fly out and Guerrero Jr. to pop-out, sending the game into extras.
McClelland (BS, 1) continued into the 10th and issued a one-out walk by Florial, bringing up Lynch. The 23-year-old jumped on a 2-0 pitch and hit a moonshot over the right field wall, giving the Yankees a 7-5 lead. McClelland (L, 0-1) followed by hitting Keith Skinner with a pitch and left after walking Blaser.
Palma continued the inning by reaching on an infield single against RHP Philip Walby, loading the bases. Park pulled a liner into right for an RBI single, plating Skinner. Walby got a groundout and a strikeout to end the frame.
The Blue Jays managed to put the tying runs on base against Frawley in the 10th. Juan Kelly singled into right and stole second. Olivares reached on a hit-by-pitch with two outs. A single to right by Thomas scored Kelly, but Frawely (W, 1-0) got Ryan Hissey to ground into a game-ending fielder's choice.
Park (2-for-5, HR, BB, 2RBI, R), Florial (2-for-4, 3B, BB, 2R) and Blaser (2-for-3, HR, BB, Sac-B, RBI, R) all had multi-hit games.
The 2017 season wraps up on Wednesday, with a potential doubleheader beginning at 4:00 p.m. in Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field. RHP Albert Abreu (1-3, 4.19 ERA) will square off against RHP Jordan Romano (7-5, 3.39 ERA) in Game 2 of the series. Should the Blue Jays win, a decisive Game 3 will be played approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of Game 2.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.