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Tarpons Rally Late, Rice Delivers Walk-Off Hit in 10th

Hardman Caps Comeback with Game-Tying 2-Run Single in 9th
Ben Rice delivered a walk-off RBI single in the 10th in Tampa's 7-6 win on Sunday afternoon. (Mark LoMoglio)
August 15, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (60-27) rallied in the ninth to erase an early 6-1 deficit before winning in the 10th on a walk-off RBI single by Ben Rice to defeat the Clearwater Threshers (39-45), 7-6, on Sunday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field. For the second-straight game, Trey

TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (60-27) rallied in the ninth to erase an early 6-1 deficit before winning in the 10th on a walk-off RBI single by Ben Rice to defeat the Clearwater Threshers (39-45), 7-6, on Sunday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

For the second-straight game, Trey Sweeney opened the scoring for the Tarpons with a solo home run. New York’s first-round pick in 2021 has now homered three times over his first nine games between the Florida Complex League and Low-A.

RHP Blane Abeyta started for Tampa and retired the side in order in the first before struggling with command. Felix Reyes reached on an error to begin the second and scored when the next three Threshers drew walks. One out later, a second run was walked home, and Casey Martin cleared the bases with a grand slam to left, giving Clearwater a 6-0 lead.

Abeyta struck out Luis Garcia before departing with two outs in the second. The 22-year-old allowed six runs (five earned) on one hit and four walks in an inning and two-thirds, striking out one on 48 pitches (23 strikes) in a no-decision.

The Tarpons got a run back in the home-half of the second when Clearwater starter Hsin-Chieh Lin has his own command issues. Tyler Hardman lined a leadoff double into the left field corner and scored, one out later, when Lin walked three-straight batters.

Lin managed to limit the damage by getting Jasson Dominguez and Sweeney to pop out, leaving the bases loaded. The right-hander completed two innings, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks while striking out two on 48 pitches (23 strikes).

Tampa got another run back in the third off RHP Griff McGarry when Madison Santos drew a walk, stole second and scored on a two-out RBI single by Aldenis Sanchez, cutting the deficit to 6-3.

RHP Carlos Gomez relieved Abeyta and, after yielding a single, struck out six of the next seven batters he faced, stranding a leadoff double in the fourth. Clearwater loaded the bases in the fifth with a pair of walks and a hit-batter with two outs, but Gomez got Nick Matera to ground into a force out to escape the jam.

McGarry struck out six while yielding one run on one hit and one walk over two and two-third innings. RHP Victor Lopez (H, 1) followed with five strikeouts while scattering two hits and two walks over two and a third.

LHP Ben Keizer relieved Gomez in the sixth and worked in-and-out of trouble throughout three scoreless innings. After stranding a two-out single in the sixth, Keizer worked around a double and two walks in the seventh, getting a 5-4-3 double-play from Matera to end the frame. In the eighth, Keizer erased a one-out walk by getting an inning-ending 4-3 double-play.

RHP Cam Wynne entered for Clearwater in the eighth and stranded a two-out double by Rice. Wynne returned for the ninth, and Dominguez legged out a leadoff infield single. Sweeney then walked, and Ryder Green singled, loading the bases. A walk by Santos drove home Dominguez, and Hardman followed with a game-tying two-run single to left.

On the play, Santos was caught stretching at third base for the first out. Wynne (BS, 1) then got a flyout by Sanchez and a strikeout by Benjamin Cowles to force extras.

RHP Wellington Diaz (W, 4-2) tossed a perfect ninth, and stranded Jared Carr (automatic runner) at second base in the 10th by retiring three-straight batters.

Cowles began the bottom of the 10th at second base as the automatic runner, and Rice jumped on the first pitch from RHP Yoan Antonac (L, 0-1) and drilled an RBI single into right-center to trigger the celebration.

Sweeney (2-for-4, HR, BB, RBI, 2R), Hardman (2-for-5, 2B, 2RBI, R) and Rice (2-for-4, BB, RBI) each logged a multi-hit game.

The homestand continues Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. when the Tarpons open a six-game series vs. the St. Lucie Mets. RHP Juan Carela (0-0, 4.91) is scheduled to make the start for Tampa. On Tail Waggin’ $2 Tuesday, fans can enjoy $2 select concession items through the 2nd inning AND bring your dog to the game with the purchase of a $2 dog ticket.