LAKELAND, Fla. -- Estevan Florial and Brandon Wagner homered as Freicer Perez made his Tampa debut, but the Lakeland Flying Tigers (1-1) quickly answered and scored late as the Tarpons (1-1) fell short, 6-5, on Friday night at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Florial and Wagner went back-to-back off of Lakeland starter Alex Faedo with one out in the first. After a hit-by-pitch put Isiah Gilliam aboard, Faedo retired the final 13 batters he faced.
The former Florida Gators standout impressed in his first professional baseball game, holding Tampa to two earned runs on two hits and a hit-batter in five innings, tallying four strikeouts while not issuing a walk. Faedo threw 53 of 72 pitches for strikes.
Lakeland promptly tied the score with a two-out rally in the home half of the first. Daz Cameron drew a walk and stole second before scoring on a base hit by Isaac Paredes. Blaise Salter followed with an RBI double, knotting the score at 2-2.
Perez pitched into the fifth, leaving after issuing a one-out walk to Derek Hill. LHP Phillip Diehl entered in relief and retired Daniel Pinero, but Cameron knocked a two-out single into right, scoring Hill.
RHP Drew Carlton (W, 1-0) replaced Faedo in the sixth and Pablo Olivares greeted the reliever with a leadoff single to left. Two out later, Wagner grounded a base hit into right. Olivares advanced to third on the single and scored on an errant throw by right-fielder Jose Azocar, tying the game at 3-3.
The Flying Tigers responded with a string of hits off Diehl (L, 0-1) in the sixth. Chad Sedio and Cam Gibson reached on back-to-back, infield singles and both scored on a booming double into left-center by Andres Sthormes. Azocar followed with a fly ball into center and Sthormes scored on a misplay by Florial.
Tampa brought the tying run to the plate when Hoy Jun Park and Tim Lynch drew consecutive walks in the seventh. Park tagged to third on a fly out by Angel Aguilar and scored when Francisco Diaz singled off reliever Will Vest. A wild pitch pushed the runners ahead, but Vest got a groundout and a fly out to escape the threat.
Wagner sliced a one-out double into the left field corner in the eighth and scored on a two-out single by Park, cutting the deficit to 6-5. Aguilar blasted a leadoff triple off closer Eduardo Jimenez (SV, 1) in the ninth, but Jimenez got a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to close the game.
Perez allowed three earned runs on three hits in four and a third innings, walking four while striking out four in his Tampa debut. The righty threw 51 of 84 pitches for strikes.
The series continues with Tampa's home opener at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (0-0, -.--) start, making his Tarpons debut against Lakeland LHP Austin Sodders (0-0, -.-- ERA). Live play-by-play audio will be available on the Tarpons Radio Network.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.