TAMPA, Fla. - Clutch hitting proved to be the key for the Tampa Yankees (28-27) in a 7-5 victory over the Charlotte Stone Crabs (25-27). Rehabber Greg Bird , Gosuke Katoh , Wes Wilson and Jorge Mateo all delivered two-out, RBI hits as the T-Yanks earned a split of the four-game series on Friday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Chris Gittens lined a single into left-centerfield to leadoff the bottom of the second. A pair of groundouts placed the runner at third and Katoh put the T-Yanks on the board with a two-out, RBI single into center.
The Stone Crabs rallied to take the lead against Tampa starter Erik Swanson in the third. Three consecutive singles by Jake Cronenworth, Ryan Boldt and Brandon Lowe produced the tying run. RHP Jose Mesa entered in relief, inheriting a 2-0 count on Brett Sullivan.
On Mesa's first pitch, Sullivan doubled into right field. Boldt scored on the hit and Lowe crossed the plate on a throwing error by right fielder Austin Aune .
Swanson allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in two and a third innings, walking one while striking out three. The right-hander threw 27 of 48 pitches for strikes before leaving the game early after a visit by the training staff.
Back-to-back, two-out doubles by Kyle Holder and Bird cut Tampa's deficit in half in the fourth. The Yankees tied the score in the fifth when Nick Solak walked and later scored on a two-out, RBI single by Wilson.
Charlotte starter Roel Rodriguez left after four innings of work, allowing three earned runs on six hits. The righty walked one, struck out six and threw 45 of 74 pitches for strikes.
Boldt walked and Lowe grounded an infield single to open top of the fifth. A double steal placed both runners in scoring position and, one out later, Dalton Kelly blasted a ground-rule double over the wall in left-centerfield, giving the Stone Crabs a 5-3 lead.
Tampa took advantage of an erratic Jairo Munoz (L, 0-1) to take the lead in the sixth. Solak served a leadoff single into left and promptly stole second. One out later, a wild pitch advanced Solak to third and Aune drove a sacrifice fly into deep left field, plating the run.
Wilson kept the inning alive, lining a single into left-center. A wild pitch moved Wilson up to second before Mateo roped a line drive over the head of right fielder Peter Maris for a game-tying, RBI triple. A third wild pitch by Munoz allowed Mateo to score the go-ahead run.
The Yankees added insurance in the seventh against RHP Noel Rodriguez when Trey Amburgey reached on a fielder's choice and later scored while Katoh reached on a throwing error by Cronenworth at shortstop.
RHP Anyelo Gomez (W, 2-1) scattered a hit and two walks over three scoreless relief innings, striking out three while earning the win in for Tampa. RHP Dillon McNamara (SV, 8) retired the side in order in the ninth, striking out Sullivan to end the game.
Mateo (2-for-5, 3B, RBI, R) collected his league-leading seventh triple. Solak (2-for-3, BB, 2R) and Wilson (2-for-4, RBI, R) also had multi-hit games. Bird (1-for-3, 2B, BB, RBI) batted third as the designated hitter in his second rehab game with Tampa.
Up next, the T-Yanks continue a home stand with a four-game set against the Jupiter Hammerheads. The series begins on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with RHP Taylor Widener (3-4, 3.97 ERA) scheduled to face RHP Jorgan Cavanerio (0-2, 3.32 ERA).
Saturday is "Strike Out Cancer Night." Players and coaches will wear custom jerseys that will be available in a silent auction, with proceeds benefiting BayCare. Fans are invited to stay for a postgame fireworks show, presented by Avis and AIG.
Salute to Service Members Saturday will also be recognized. All Military members receive a free upper reserved ticket with a valid ID. Select T-Yanks will sign autographs on the concourse from 5:40 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. For tickets and promotional information, call (813) 673-3055 or visit www.tybaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.