TAMPA, Fla. - An eight-run fourth gave Tampa an 11-1 lead before the Lakeland Flying Tigers (2-1) stormed back with seven runs in the sixth, but the Tarpons (1-2) held on to win, 12-9, in front of a home-opener crowd of 1,592 on Saturday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Matt Pita reached on a fielding error, stole second and later scored on a two-out single by Dermis Garcia , giving the Tarpons a 1-0 lead in the first. It was the first of three hits and four RBI in the game for Garcia.
The Flying Tigers answered off Glenn Otto in the third, when Detroit rehabber JaCoby Jones pulled a two-out RBI double to left, knotting the game at 1-1.
Otto then worked around a pair of hits in the fourth and left the game after issuing a four-pitch walk to open the fifth. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits in four innings, walking two while striking out seven. Otto threw 49 of 78 pitches for strikes.
Tampa reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third off Lakeland starter Elvin Rodriguez when Isiah Gilliam walked and scored when Garcia hit a towering two-run blast to left. It was the first home run of the season for Garcia, who hit 15 with Single-A Charleston a season ago.
Rodriguez (L, 0-1) began to struggle with one out in the fourth, issuing a walk and a hit-batter. Welfrin Mateo followed with an RBI double, prompting Lakeland to bring in RHP Brandyn Sittinger. One out later, Sittinger walked three-straight batters, forcing home two runs.
Steven Sensley cashed in two more runs with a line drive into center , followed by a three-run home run to left by Donny Sands , giving the Tarpons a 10-run cushion.
LHP Anderson Severino (W, 1-0) worked a scoreless fifth and struck out the first batter he faced in the sixth before allowing four-straight Flying Tigers to reach, including an RBI single by Zac Shepherd and an RBI double by Dylan Rosa.
RHP Jefry Valdez took over and allowed the next four batters to reach, including an RBI single by Brady Policelli and a two-run double by Kody Clemens. One out later, Luke Burch plated a run with an infield single, and the seventh run of the inning scored on a fielder's choice groundball by A.J. Simcox, cutting the lead to 11-8.
Rosa reached on a throwing error to open the seventh and later scored on a single by Jones, bringing Lakeland to within two runs.
Tampa added insurance off RHP Burris Warner in the eighth when Pita reached on an infield single and later scored on a double to left-center by Oswaldo Cabrera .
RHP Greg Weissert (SV, 1) stranded a leadoff hit-batter in the eighth and retired the final six batters he faced, earning his first save of the season.
Garcia (3-for-4, HR, BB, 4 RBI, 2 R) tied a career-high with four runs batted in. Cabrera (2-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI, R) and Gilliam (0-for-2, 3 BB, RBI, 2 R, SB) safely reached base three times apiece. Tyler Hill (0-for-1, 2 HBP, R) left the game in the sixth after getting hit twice at the plate.
The series concludes on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., with RHP CC Sabathia expected to start for the Tarpons as part of a rehab assignment. RHP Jesus Rodriguez (0-0, -.--) is slated to start for the Flying Tigers. Live play-by-play audio will be available on the Tampa Tarpons Baseball Network.
As part of Family Funday Sunday, fans can take advantage of $40 Family 4-Packs, which include four tickets, four hats and four $5 concession vouchers (Family 4-Packs are only available at the George M. Steinbrenner Field Box Office. In addition, Kids 14-and-under can the run the bases after the game.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.