TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (28-28) emerged victorious Friday night, defeating the St. Lucie Mets (16-40) at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 7-5. CF Jackson Castillo crushed his first career Single-A homer in the bottom of the fourth – a three-run blast that put the Tarpons ahead and in control
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (28-28) emerged victorious Friday night, defeating the St. Lucie Mets (16-40) at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 7-5. CF Jackson Castillo crushed his first career Single-A homer in the bottom of the fourth – a three-run blast that put the Tarpons ahead and in control the rest of the game.
RHP Luis Gil (2.0IP, 3H, R, BB, 3K) started on the bump for the Tarpons, marking his first rehab start of the season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in May of 2022. Gil immediately settled in and looked comfortable over two innings of work. The right-hander threw a total of 47 pitches (28 strikes), averaging 96.1 MPH on his fastball while topping out at 98.5 MPH.
Yohario Cuevas tagged Gil for the first run of the game in the top of the second, singling to left field to score Diego Mosquera and give the Mets an early lead.
The Tarpons answered right back in the bottom half of the frame when LF Daury Arias rolled into a fielder’s choice to score 3B Kiko Romero.
St. Lucie regained the lead in the third after RHP Nolberto Henriquez entered the game in relief of Gil. After Ronald Hernandez worked a four-pitch free pass with two outs, Wilfred Lara cleared the bases with a two-run homer.
RHP Hayden Merda (3-6) replaced Henriquez and picked up his third win of the season, striking out a pair of batters over 1.2 innings of work.
DH Nelson Medina and RF Tayler Aguilar led off the home half of the fourth with back-to-back walks, and advanced on a wild pickoff attempt to second base by Wilson Esterlin. Medina scored from second while Aguilar hustled and slid into third. The damage wouldn’t end there. With two men on and two out, Castillo smashed his first Single-A homer to put the Tarpons ahead, 5-3.
Aguilar started off the sixth with a line-drive double to right field and stole 3rd base for his eighth steal of the season. Arias walked to set up runners on the corners for Lombard Jr., who unfortunately rolled into a routine double-play ball to short. Not the desired outcome, but nevertheless it was a productive at-bat as Aguilar crossed the plate for some necessary insurance.
The Mets brought the deficit within one in the top of the eighth, but Tampa capitalized on another misfired pickoff attempt in the bottom half to stay and remain in the lead for the remainder of the contest.
Both teams return to action Saturday night at GMS Field, where the Tarpons are hosting Fan Appreciation Night. RHP Sean Hermann is slated to make the start, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 PM EST.