TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Tarpons closed out the 2018 season with a rain-shorted loss to the Bradenton Marauders, 3-1 in seven innings, on Sunday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
The Tarpons fell short of making the Florida State League playoffs for the first time since 2015. However, Tampa finished with an overall record of 70-67 for its third-straight winning season.
RHP Christian Morris got the nod after scheduled starter Deivi Garcia was promoted to Double-A Trenton. Morris made his first start since doing so with Single-A Charleston on August 23rd, 2017.
Bradenton (55-75) jumped ahead in the first when Raul Siri doubled and scored on a base hit by Bligh Madris. Albert Baur followed with a double into right, and Madris tried to score from first, but a relay throw from right-fielder Isiah Gilliam to second-baseman Matt Pita to catcher Chace Numata was in time for the out.
Morris then retired eight of the next nine batters he faced before allowing a one-out walk by Mitchell Tolman in the fourth. One out later, Casey Hughston singled. Tolman advanced to third and drew a high throw by centerfielder Estevan Florial . The ball landed into the third base dugout and Tolman scored as Hughston was placed at third.
RHP Braden Bristo relieved Morris and Hughston scored on a doubled to right by Lucas Tancas. After allowing a walk, Bristo got a fly out to end the inning.
Morris (1-3) logged his longest outing of the season, yielding three earned runs on four hits in three and two-third innings. The 24-year-old walked two, struck out three and threw 33 of 53 pitches for strikes.
Dom Thompson-Williams singled to begin the bottom of the fourth and stole second base for his 20th steal of the season. The 23-year-old became the first minor leaguer in the New York farm system to accomplish a 20HR/20SB season (22HR/20SB) since Melky Mesa did so in 2012 (25HR/24SB).
A walk by Gilliam and a single by Steven Sensley loaded the bases for Tampa in the fourth, but RHP Pedro Vasquez got back-to-back strikeouts of Numata and Pita before getting Ricky Surum on a groundout to escape the jam.
Daniel Barrios and Florial both singled to open the bottom of the fifth. Donny Sands then reached on a fielder's choice as Florial was forced out at second. A walk by Thompson-Williams loaded the bases and a second walk by Gilliam forced home Barrios, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
LHP Jordan Jess (W, 4-5) relieved Vasquez and got Sensley to fly out to center. Sands attempted to tag from third and score, but did not cross the plate before Hughston threw Thompson-Williams out at third base to end the inning.
Vasquez allowed one earned run on five hits in four and a third innings, walking four while striking out six on 98 pitches (62 strikes).
Bristo worked around three hits in a scoreless fifth before striking out the side in a perfect sixth. RHP Greg Weissert added a strikeout in a scoreless seventh despite yielding a walk and a hit-batter.
Wind picked up prior to the top of the eighth and the tarp was placed onto the field minutes before heavy rain showers arrived. After a 30-minute delay, the game was called official after seven innings.
Barrios (2-for-3, R) logged the lone multi-hit game for Tampa.
Gilliam (0-for-1, 2BB, RBI) ranks third in the league with 71RBI and finishes the season ranked second in hits (123) and third in total bases (188). Thompson-Williams (1-for-3, BB, SB) ends the season ranked fifth in the league with 65 RBI.
The Tarpons will return to action when the 2019 season commences in April.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.