TAMPA, Fla. - Jorge Mateo did not start the game but proved to be the hero after hitting a game-winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 13th inning, giving the Tampa Yankees (14-18) a 6-5 win in the series-opener over the Dunedin Blue Jays (17-15) on Monday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
All 12 position players made it into the ball game and the Yankees tallied a season-high 17 hits and six stolen bases in the three-hour and 46-minute contest, resulting in Tampa's fifth walk-off win of the season.
The seesaw battle began when Andrew Guillotte looped a leadoff single into shallow right-centerfield in the first. Guillotte stole second and tagged to third on a fly out before scoring on a groundout by Max Pentecost.
Tampa responded in the home half against Blue Jay starter Conor Fisk when Tito Polo lined a two-out single into left, stole second and scored on a drive into center by Chris Gittens.
Matt Dean skied a solo homer just over the wall in right field, giving Dunedin back the lead, 2-1, in the second.
Jhalan Jackson singled and advanced to third on a double by Gosuke Katoh to open the bottom of the second. Both scored on a ground-rule double by Francisco Diaz, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
The Blue Jays promptly retied the game when D.J. Davis legged out an infield single, stole second and scored on a bloop base hit into right field by Cavan Biggio.
RHP Domingo Acevedo made the start for Tampa, entering with an active streak of 20.1 consecutive innings without issuing a walk. That streak snapped at 23.0IP when Danny Jansen drew a two-out walk in the third.
Dunedin regained the lead in the sixth when Jansen reached on a hit-by-pitch and later scored on a two-out, RBI double by Dean.
Acevedo took a no-decision after allowing four earned runs on seven hits, one walk and a hit-batter in six innings. The 23-year-old tallied eight strikeouts and threw 70 of 90 pitches for strikes.
Fisk made a quality start for Dunedin, holding the Yankees to three earned runs on 10 hits in six innings. The righty struck out five and threw 66 of 97 pitches for strikes without issuing a walk.
The game turned Tampa's way in the seventh when the Yankees regained the lead against reliever Adonys Cardona (BS, 2). Polo singled and stole second for the third time in the game. Gittens drew a walk and both runners advanced on a wild pitch before scoring on a go-ahead, two-run double by Trey Amburgey.
Following a pair of scoreless frames by RHP Hobie Harris , the Yankees turned to RHP Cody Carroll for the save in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Juan Kelly hit a high pop-up above the infield that fell for a two-base error. Josh Almonte entered as a pinch runner for Kelly and scored when Davis bounced a ball off shortstop Kyle Holder's mitt, tying the game at 5-5.
Carroll (BS, 1) went on to pitch scoreless 10th and 11th frames before handing the ball off to RHP Andrew Schwaab (W, 3-1) in the 12th. Schwaab worked around a single and tallied a strikeout in two shutout innings.
The Blue Jays brought in their closer, RHP Andrew Case, in the bottom of the ninth and Tampa loaded the bases with one out. Case then got pinch-hitter Nick Solak to bounce into an inning-ending 6-2-3 double play.
Case pitched two more scoreless innings before Dunedin turned to RHP Jared Carkuff (L, 0-1). After going 1-2-3 in the 12th, the Yankees loaded the bases against Carkuff in the 13th and Mateo ended the game with a deep fly into left-centerfield, scoring Jeff Hendrix from third.
Polo (4-for-6, HBP, 2R, 3SB) logged his third career four-hit game, raising his batting average to .312. Katoh (3-for-4, 2B, 2BB, R, SB) reached base five times. Gittens (3-for-4, BB, RBI, R, SB), Amburgey (2-for-6, 2B, 2RBI) and Diaz (3-for-6, 2B, 2RBI, SB) also had multi-hit games.
Mateo (0-for-0, Sac-Bunt, Sac-Fly, RBI) entered the game as a pinch runner for Gittens in the ninth. Wes Wilson became the final position player used by Tampa when he pinch ran for Diaz in the 13th.
The series continues on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. when RHP Erik Swanson (0-0, 1.50 ERA) makes the start for Tampa against RHP Jordan Romano (2-0, 2.76 ERA) for Dunedin. On BOGO Burgers Tuesday, fans can enjoy a "buy one, get one free" deal on burgers all night. For tickets and promotional information, call (813) 673-3055 or visit tybaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.