TAMPA - A playoff push took a step back as the Tampa Yankees (26-27, 60-63) dropped both ends of a double-header to the Lakeland Flying Tigers (12-37, 45-73-1), 3-2 and 3-1, on Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Tampa now trails first-place Daytona by seven games in the Florida State League North second-half standings, with 16 games left.
Lakeland rallied for a comeback win in eight innings in game one and Tampa spoiled a no-hitter by LHP Kevin Ziomek, with one strike to go, in the second leg.
LHP Dietrich Enns surrendered a leadoff triple by Jiwan James, who scored on a sacrifice fly by Raph Rhymes, as Lakeland took a lead in the first.
Tampa quickly answered in the home half against RHP Jonathan Maciel. Jorge Mateo singled into left and stole second. Mateo advanced to third on a grounder by Abiatal Avelino and scored as Dustin Fowler grounded out to second.
The score held at 1-1 until the Yankees pulled ahead in the sixth. With one out, Mike Ford sliced a ground-rule down the left field line. Dan Fiorito pinch-ran for Ford and, one out later, Kyle Higashioka hit a go-ahead RBI single into left.
RHP Giovanny Gallegos entered for the save and allowed a leadoff single to Curt Powell in the seventh. After a strikeout by Ben Verlander, a double by Jared Reaves placed runners at second and third. Gallegos struck out Tim Remes for the second out. With the Flying Tigers down to their last out, Tyler Hanover grounded a ball towards the middle and reached on an error by Mateo at shortstop, allowing Powell to score the tying run.
Lakeland rallied in the eighth to take the lead in extras against RHP Angel Rincon (1-5). Francisco Martinez and Curt Powell each singled with two outs. With runners on the corners, Verlander reached on an infield single, scoring Martinez.
Tampa placed the tying run at second with a double by Fiorito before RHP Gabe Hemmer struck out the side for his second save.
RHP Calvin Drummond (4-1) earned the win after tossing a scoreless seventh.
Enns took a no-decision, holding Lakeland to a run on two hits in six innings. The southpaw walked two and struck out four.
Lakeland's Kevin Ziomek came one out away from history in the finale, as Tampa did not register a hit until two outs in the seventh inning.
The game remained scoreless until the Flying Tigers took the lead against RHP Jonathan Holder in the fourth. Verlander doubled with two outs and scored on a base hit by Reaves.
Two more runs scored for the Flying Tigers in the fifth. Ismael Salgado hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on a bunt by James. Brett Pirtle singled in Salgado and moved to third as Javier Betancourt reached on a force attempt, fielding error by Andujar at third. Pirtle scored on a base hit by Martinez, giving Lakeland a 3-0 lead.
Ziomek took a no-hitter into the seventh and retired the first two batters. On an 0-2 pitch, Fowler lined a double down the left field line to break it up. A wild pitch moved Fowler to third before Ford drew a walk. Andujar put the Yankees on the board with an RBI single to center. Lakeland brought in RHP Whit Mayberry and Andujar stole second, placing the tying runs into scoring position. The comeback fell short as Fiorito grounded out to first.
Ziomek (7-10) held Tampa to one run on two hits in six and two-third innings, walking two while striking out four. Mayberry earned his second save.
Holder (6-4) allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in five and two-third innings, walking three while striking out one.
Andujar (2-for-7, RBI) collected a hit in each contest, extending his hit streak to 10 games. Ford (1-for-4, 2B, 2 BB) is fourth in the league with 53 walks. Mateo (2-for-7, 2B, R, SB) has 78 stolen bases. Higashioka (2-for-4, RBI) is on a nine-game hit streak.
Up next, the T-Yanks host the Daytona Tortugas for a critical three-game series beginning on Thursday. RHP Gabriel Encinas (2-4, 4.38 ERA) is scheduled to match up against RHP Keury Mella (1-1, 4.00 ERA)
On Throwback Thursday, fans can get $2 reserved tickets & $1 general admission tickets. 14 oz. Draft Beer for $2 and $1 SM Soda from 6-8pm. Silver Slugger Members get free admission. The Throwback Tickets can only be purchased at the Steinbrenner Field box office.