TAMPA, Fla. – Geez, that felt good.
The Tampa Tarpons (7-10) dismantled the Lakeland Flying Tigers (8-9) – taking game two of their five game set, 10-3. The Tarpons scored a touchdown in the fifth inning behind a power surge which saw 1B Anthony Garcia, LF Madison Santos, and C
TAMPA, Fla. – Geez, that felt good.
The Tampa Tarpons (7-10) dismantled the Lakeland Flying Tigers (8-9) – taking game two of their five game set, 10-3. The Tarpons scored a touchdown in the fifth inning behind a power surge which saw 1B Anthony Garcia, LF Madison Santos, and C Anthony Seigler all leave the yard. Garcia was perfect at the plate, going 4-for-4 (2HR, 2R, 3RBI, 1BB) in the winning effort which snaps a seven-game losing streak.
RHP Richard Fitts took the mound for the Tarpons, logging his third start of the season. Fitts put together his longest outing thus far, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out three batters over four innings of work.
The Flying Tigers appeared to figure Fitts out their second time through the lineup. Lazaro Benitez flipped the order on a softly chopped single to SS Alexander Vargas. Carlos Mendoza followed with a single of his own to 3B Marcos Cabrera, who threw off target to first and granted Benitez an extra base. With runners on the corners and no outs, Manuel Sequera blooped a weak fly ball into shallow right field to score the game’s first run. Izaac Pacheco singled on a line drive to load the bases and clean-up man Chris Meyers stepped up to the dish licking his chops. On a 1-1 count, Meyers grounded into a 4-6-3 double play which plated an additional run. Roberto Campos rolled one to third to end the inning with the Flying Tigers up 2-0.
The Tarpons immediately responded, as RF Raimfer Salinas led off the bottom half of the frame with a single on the first pitch he saw. With two outs, CF Jasson Dominguez ripped a ground ball single up the middle which ricocheted off the glove of Lakeland SS Cristian Santana into centerfield. Salinas would come around to score, and the Tarpons cut the deficit down to 2-1.
Fitts’ carried the positive momentum into the fourth inning, setting the Flying Tigers down in order. Garcia kept the ball rolling with a lead-off homer to open the bottom half of the inning, knotting the game at two apiece.
RHP Trevor Holloway (1-0) entered the game for the Tarpons in relief but was unable to keep Lakeland off the board. Mendoza walked on a full-count, and Sequera slapped a double into left field to put runners on second and third. Pacheco grounded into a fielder’s choice, which drove in Mendoza to put the Flying Tigers back on top, 3-2.
The Tarpons’ bats came to life in the fifth inning and unleashed a week’s worth of frustration upon Lakeland starter Nick Davila (1-2). It started with Salinas reaching on an error at third by Pacheco. 2B Roberto Chirinos drew a four-pitch walk, but Davila fought back by inducing ground ball outs from both Vargas and Dominguez. With runners on the corners and two out, Santos pulverized his first home run of the season – a three-run dinger to give the Tarpons their first lead of the night.
The damage did not stop there – Garcia was hungry for seconds and launched another moonshot to right-center for his second round-trip of the game. His four home runs lead all Tampa hitters this season.
The power surge was contagious and could not be stopped! Cabrera slashed a double to left, and Seigler supplied a THIRD homer for the Tarpons in the fifth. His two-run blast put the Tarpons up 8-3.
DH Connor Cannon doubled, and Salinas singled on a ground ball to short. Lakeland reliever Andy Santana replaced Davis and drilled Chirinos in the hand with a pitch. Santana spiked a wild pitch in the dirt, scoring Cannon who beat catcher Daneurys De La Cruz to the plate for the tag. After everything was said and done, the Tarpons scored a total of seven runs – good for a 9-3 advantage.
Manager Rachel Balkovec put the ball in the hands of righty reliever Zach Messinger, who tossed a scoreless sixth.
The Tarpons quickly got back to work, with Dominguez producing another ground ball single to open the frame. The speedy outfielder swiped second base, putting himself in prime position with the red-hot Anthony Garcia due up next. Garcia extended his impressive night with a line-drive single to center field. His fourth hit of the night scored Dominguez and put the Tarpons in double-digits.
Balkovec turned to strikeout machine RHP Jack Neely to wrap things up. Neely struck out five batters over two scoreless frames, and the Tarpons cemented a much-needed victory.
The Tarpons and Flying Tigers return to action tomorrow night for game three of a five game series. RHP Juan Carela is scheduled to make the start, with the first pitch thrown at 6:30 PM EST.