TAMPA, Fla. - Isiah Gilliam delivered a walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth as the Tampa Tarpons (2-2) came back to defeat the Lakeland Flying Tigers (2-2), 3-2, on Sunday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The win earned Tampa a split of the four-game set.
LHP CC Sabathia made the start for Tampa as part of a rehab assignment by the New York Yankees. The 38-year-old had offseason heart surgery that prevented him from starting Spring Training on time.
Sabathia appeared healthy, tallying six strikeouts while retiring the first 10 batters he faced. Fellow rehabber JaCoby Jones snapped the streak with one out in the fourth, drawing a four-pitch walk. Kody Clemens followed with a single inside the first base line and Jones scored on the ensuing groundout to third by Daniel Reyes.
The inning ended on a flyout by A.J. Simcox, and Sabathia returned to get the first two batters out in the fifth before leaving the game. The six-time American League All-Star allowed one run on one hit in four and two-third innings, walking one while striking out six. Sabathia threw 40 of 62 pitches for strikes.
RHP Jesus Rodriguez started for Lakeland and faced the minimum through the first four innings. Dermis Garcia reached on an error in the fifth, followed by a base hit by Gilliam, but Rodriguez retired the next three hitters to strand the pair.
Rodriguez allowed one hit and one hit-batter in five scoreless innings, tallying six strikeouts without issuing a walk, throwing 44 of 61 pitches for strikes.
Tampa tied the score off RHP Billy Lescher in the sixth when Matt Pita doubled, advanced on a groundout by Pablo Olivares and scored on a sacrifice fly by Diego Castillo .
The Flying Tigers struck back off RHP Janson Junk , when Zac Shepherd singled and later scored on a two-out base hit by Dylan Rosa.
Chris Hess singled to open the bottom of the eighth and was pushed to third on a sacrifice bunt by Pita, but Lakeland reliver Will Vest (BS, 1)(L, 1-1) retired Olivares and Castillo to maintain a 2-1 score.
RHP Braden Bristo (W, 1-0) retired the first six batters he faced before a two-out double by Reynaldo Rivera in the ninth. An error and a walk loaded the bases before Bristo struck out Brock Deatherage to escape trouble.
Oswaldo Cabrera lined a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth and, one out later, scored when Gilliam sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left-centerfield.
Gilliam (2-for-2, HR, BB, HBP, 2RBI, R, CS) reached base safely in all four of his plate appearances. Cabrera (1-for-3, BB, R, SB) has hit safely in three-straight games.
The Tarpons continue a homestand as Tampa welcomes the St. Lucie Mets to town for a four-game series, beginning on Monday at 6:30 p.m. RHP Miguel Yajure (0-0, -.--) is slated to make his debut, starting against St. Lucie RHP Luc Rennie (0-0, -.--). Live play-by-play audio will be available on the Tampa Tarpons Baseball Network.
On "Dog-On Mondays," fans can bring their dog to the ballpark with the purchase of a $2 dog ticket. Fans can also purchase an $8 lower reserved ticket that includes a hot dog, chips and a small drink (Special only available for purchase at the GMS Field Box Office).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.