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Bell Delivers Late Go-Ahead Hit as Tarpons Edge D-Jays, 3-2

Sauer Shines with Six Strong for Quality Start
(Mark LoMoglio)
May 25, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. – The game began with a pitchers’ duel and ended with controversy as the Tampa Tarpons (14-5) struck late to take the series-opener, 3-2, over the Dunedin Blue Jays (6-13) on Tuesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The series originally scheduled to be played in Dunedin was

TAMPA, Fla. – The game began with a pitchers’ duel and ended with controversy as the Tampa Tarpons (14-5) struck late to take the series-opener, 3-2, over the Dunedin Blue Jays (6-13) on Tuesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The series originally scheduled to be played in Dunedin was moved to Tampa with the Toronto Blue Jays occupying TD Ballpark until May 31st. As they did on Tuesday, the Tarpons will play each game of the series as the “away” team.

Zac Cook bounced a ground-rule double over the wall in left-center to begin the bottom of the first and took third on a base hit by Leo Jimenez before later scoring on a sacrifice fly by Zach Britton, giving the Blue Jays an early 1-0 lead.

LHP Naswell Paulino kept Tampa off the scoreboard for the duration of his five and one-third innings, scattering two hits and one walk while striking out a pair, throwing 44 of 69 pitches for strikes in a no-decision.

In the sixth, Anthony Volpe drew a one-out walk off reliever Thomas Ruwe (BS, 1) and took third on a two-out hit-and-run single to right by Trevor Hauver. Volpe then scored on an infield single by Jake Sanford, tying the game at 1-1.

After allowing the first two batters to reach, RHP Matt Sauer retired 15 of the next 16 he faced before Cook reached on a one-out bunt single towards third. Jimenez followed with a base hit, and Cook took third on a flyout, placing runners on the corners with two outs.

Cook then scored on a line drive into the right field corner by Britton. Jimenez rounded third on the play but was thrown out stretching as Hauver relayed the throw from right field by Elijah Dunham to catcher Austin Wells for the third out, keeping the score at 2-1 Blue Jays.

Sauer logged his first quality start of the season, yielding two earned runs on six hits and no walks in six innings, tallying four strikeouts on 64 pitches (44 strikes) in a no-decision.

After stranding a pair in a scoreless seventh, RHP Gabriel Ponce (L, 0-2)(BS, 2) continued for Dunedin in the eighth. A single by Hauver and a walk by Sanford put two on with two outs, and Chad Bell blasted a ball to straightaway center for what appeared to be a three-run home run.

The ball looked to have bounced off the batter’s eye and back onto the field of play. Bell hustled all the way to third as umpire Michael Corbett ruled the ball still “in play” and no home run. The two-run triple gave Tampa a 3-2 lead.

RHP Wellington Diaz (W, 2-0) picked up a strikeout while working a perfect seventh inning. RHP Carson Coleman worked in and out of trouble in the eighth, allowing Dunedin to load the bases before inducing an inning-ending 5-3 double-play by Martinez. Coleman (SV, 1) then tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to close the game.

Sanford (2-for-3, 2B, BB, RBI, R) reached base three times. Hauver (2-for-4, R) and Bell (2-for-4, 3B, 2RBI) also logged multi-hit games, with Bell extending his on-base streak to 17 games.

The series continues Wednesday with a doubleheader set for 4:00 p.m. Jol Concepcion (1-1, 6.23) will start for Dunedin against a Tampa starter TBA in Game 1. Game 2 will begin 30 minutes following Game 1 and feature RHP Blane Abeyta (2-1, 8.22) vs. RHP Nick Frasso (0.0, 0.00). The entire series will be played at GMS Field, with $5 general admission tickets ONLY available at the box office, which opens one hour prior to first-pitch on each game day.