TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons dropped both ends of a doubleheader, 6-1 in Game One and 7-2 in Game Two, as the Fort Myers Miracle clinched the Florida State League South Division First-Half Title on Tuesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Giancarlo Stanton blasted a solo home run over the right field wall with two outs in the fifth, accounting for Tampa's only run of the first game. The 29-year-old singled in the seventh and finished 2-for-4 as the designated hitter in the first game of his rebooted rehab assignment.
LHP JP Sears started the first game for Tampa (27-38) and, with two outs in the first, allowed a base hit by Trevor Larnach before Ryan Jeffers smashed a two-run homer to left.
After needing 19 pitches in the first inning, Sears threw 30 pitches in the second, which began with a walk and a hit-batter. Michael Helman followed with a two-run double into the right field corner, doubling the Fort Myers (39-26) lead.
After Stanton's home run in the fifth, Oswaldo Cabrera singled for his third hit of the game, and Dermis Garcia walked, bringing the tying run to the plate. RHP Joe Record entered in relief and struck out Isiah Gilliam to end the frame.
Sears retired 11 of the next 12 batters he faced before yielding a leadoff single by Larnach in the sixth. RHP Kyle Zurak entered in relief and Jeffers greeted him with an opposite-field home run over the short porch in right, giving the Miracle a 6-1 lead.
LHP Tyler Watson started for Fort Myers and held the Tarpons to one earned run on seven hits, one walk and one hit-batter in four and two-third innings, striking out four on 89 pitches (57 strikes) in a no-decision.
Record (W, 1-1) retired seven-of-eight batters he faced, yielding a single by Stanton in the seventh while striking out a pair while closing the game.
The Miracle struck early in Game Two when Royce Lewis singled, advanced to second on a throwing error, took third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning.
Fort Myers loaded the bases with no outs against RHP Janson Junk in the second and Ryan Costello pulled a two-run double into right field. Junk retired the next three batters, including a pair of strikeouts, to limit the damage.
After going down in order in the third, the Miracle collected singles on three consecutive pitches in the fourth, loading the bases with no outs. A wild pitch plated one run, but Junk got a pair of pop-outs before inducing a flyout to escape, with Fort Myers leading, 4-0.
RHP Melvi Acosta (W, 4-1) stymied the Tampa offense, scattering four hits and one walk in five shutout innings, striking out three on 76 pitches (47 strikes).
Junk stranded a leadoff single in the fifth but left after yielding a single and a walk to begin the sixth. LHP James Reeves issued a walk before a wild pitch plated a run. Lewis followed with an RBI single, and Lewin Diaz added a sacrifice fly before Reeves could escape the inning.
Cabrera greeted RHP Alex Phillips with a leadoff single in the sixth - his second hit of the game and fifth of the doubleheader. Gilliam reached on a fielder's choice and advanced on a base hit by Steven Sensley before scoring on a single by Pablo Olivares .
Donny Sands reached on an infield single, loading the bases with one out. Wendell Rijo followed with a groundout towards the right side of the mound, scoring Sensley before Phillips struck out Angel Aguilar to end the rally.
Junk (L, 2-3) allowed six earned runs on a career-high nine hits in five innings, walking two while striking out four on 89 pitches (60 strikes).
RHP Greg Weissert struck out the side in a perfect top of the seventh, but Phillips notched a pair of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to start the celebration for Fort Myers.
Cabrera (5-for-8, 2B) and Tyler Hill (4-for-6, 2B) logged multiple hits in both ends of the doubleheader. Estevan Florial (0-for-8) snapped a seven-game on-base streak.
RHP Shawn Semple (0-1, 3.13) is slated to start against RHP Jhoan Duran (1-5, 3.28) when the series continues on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Stanton is expected to be in the lineup for Tampa to continue his rehab assignment. Live play-by-play will be available on the Tampa Tarpons Baseball Network.
On "WOWW Wednesday," fans can enjoy half-priced Wings, Wine and White Claws from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.