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Blue Jays Sweep Tarpons in Twin Bill

Neely Strikes Out the Side in Professional Debut
RHP Jack Neely struck out the side over a scoreless relief inning in his professional debut. (Mark LoMoglio)
September 10, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. – A late rally fell short as the Tampa Tarpons (71-39) fell, 10-6, in the completion of Thursday’s suspended game before the Blue Jays (53-59) completed a double header sweep with a 5-1 final in seven innings on Friday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Prior to rain

TAMPA, Fla. – A late rally fell short as the Tampa Tarpons (71-39) fell, 10-6, in the completion of Thursday’s suspended game before the Blue Jays (53-59) completed a double header sweep with a 5-1 final in seven innings on Friday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Prior to rain suspending play in the bottom of the fourth on Thursday, RHP Blane Abeyta (L, 5-3) made the start and tallied eight strikeouts while allowing five runs on five hits, a walk and a hit-batter over four innings on 81 pitches (52 strikes).

Abeyta struck out the first six batters he faced before MacKenzie Mueller hit a leadoff homer in the third. Leo Jimenez then reached on a hit-by-pitch to open the fourth, and Miguel Hiraldo followed with a two-run homer to right. One out later, Dunedin loaded the bases on a walk and a pair of singles, and Andres Sosa lifted a sacrifice fly to left before a base hit by Garrett Spain gave the Blue Jays a 5-0 lead.

Tyler Hardman singled and took third on a double by Benjamin Cowles to open the home half of the fourth off RHP Michael Dominguez before rain suspended play. LHP Harry Rutkowski (W, 3-1) walked Ben Rice when play resumed on Friday, and Hardman scored as Ryder Green reached on a fielder’s choice, cutting the deficit to 5-1 before Rutkowski stranded a pair.

RHP Danny Watson took the mound in the fifth and, with two outs, Dunedin loaded the bases with a hit-batter and a pair of walks. RHP Harold Cortijo relieved Watson, and Mueller reached on an RBI hit-by-pitch before Sosa hit a two-run single, giving the Blue Jays an 8-1 lead.

In the seventh, Tampa rallied off RHP Hunter Gregory. Trey Sweeney and Jason Dominguez both singled and scored on a double by Anthony Garcia. Madison Santos then walked and scored on a two-run homer to center by Hardman, cutting the deficit to 8-6. A hit-by-pitch and an error put the tying runs on base, but Dykstra stranded the pair to maintain a Dunedin lead.

RHP Jack Neely struck out the side in a perfect seventh in his professional debut before RHP Kenlly Montas took over in the eighth. Spain and Steward Berroa both singled and scored on a two-run double to left by Jimenez, giving the Blue Jays a 10-6 lead before Montas retired the next three batters.

LHP Sean Mellen retired six-of-seven batters faced while completing two scoreless innings to close out the game for Dunedin.

RHP Nicio Rodriguez got the nod in Game Two and erased a one-out walk in the first with a double play. Dunedin then took the lead in the second on a two-out solo home run by Harry Ray before Rodriguez retired the next four batters.

In the fourth, Riley Tirotta lined a one-out double to right, and PK Morris drew a walk before Addison Barger hit a three-run home run to center. Ray then singled, stole second and third before scoring on an errant throw by Rodriguez, giving the Blue Jays a 5-0 lead.

Rodriguez got a pair of strikeouts to complete the fourth and worked around a hit and a walk in a scoreless fifth to complete his start. The 22-year-old tallied six strikeouts while yielding five runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks, tossing 49-of-80 pitches for strikes.

RHP Nathanael Perez (W, 3-3) started for Dunedin and held the Tarpons to one hit over a scoreless five innings, tallying nine strikeouts while walking three on 86 pitches (56 strikes).

RHP Jhonatan Muñoz worked a pair of scoreless innings in relief of Rodriguez, stranding a two-out walk in the sixth before working around a hit and a walk in the seventh, tallying three strikeouts along the way.

Tampa got its lone run off RHP Jiorgeny Casimiri in the sixth when Madison Santos singled, stole second and, after a walk by Hardman, scored on a base hit to left by Benjamin Cowles. Hardman was then thrown out at the plate by Spain while trying to score on a single to left by Roberto Chirinos. Casimiri then retired the next four batters to close the game.

The series continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m., with RHP Blas Castano (5-1, 4.13) slated to make the start opposite a Dunedin starter TBA. On All-You-Can-Eat (& Drink) Saturday, for ONLY $49, fans can enjoy all-you-can-eat ballpark fare and beer/wine/soda/water from 6:00-8:30 p.m. Package includes a ticket to the game and access to the private Spectrum Dugout Club.