TAMPA, Fla. - Looking for a last-minute playoff push, the Tampa Tarpons (24-25) dropped the opening game of the last homestand of the season Tuesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field against the Palm Beach Cardinals (22-25). After falling behind in the second, Tampa was never able to claw back,
TAMPA, Fla. - Looking for a last-minute playoff push, the Tampa Tarpons (24-25) dropped the opening game of the last homestand of the season Tuesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field against the Palm Beach Cardinals (22-25). After falling behind in the second, Tampa was never able to claw back, although they showed fight in the ninth, putting two runs on the board. Dakota Harris carried Palm Beach’s offense, driving in four of the Cardinals' eight runs.
Despite a rough start, RHP Cam Schlittler (4.0IP, 6H, 6R, 5ER, 7K, HR) had the swing-and-miss stuff working. He tallied seven strikeouts while relying on his cutter and slider. The cutter sat at 90.7 MPH while generating a whiff rate of 33%.
SS Roc Riggio got the offense started in the first with a single to shallow center field. With Riggio on second after a wild pickoff attempt, C Omar Matinez brought him home with a base hit to right field to give the Tarpons the early lead.
Joshua Baez looped a leadoff single into right field to start the second. Kade Kretzschmar got plunked by a cutter, and both runners moved up 90 feet on a double steal. Harris gave Palm Beach the lead with a double to left field, and the Cardinals tacked on one more when Lizardo Espinoz dumped a single into center.
Kretzschmar opened up the fourth with a base knock through the left side. A throwing error put runners at the corners, and a SAC-fly from Harris brought home Palm Beach’s fourth run.
In the fifth, Zach Levenson padded the lead with a home run down the left-field line. Everyone, including manager Rachel Balkovec, thought the ball curved foul of the pole as she came out to argue with home plate umpire Isabella Robb, but the call stood for Levenson’s fifth long ball of the year. After the homer, Michael Curialle doubled off the wall, and Kretzschmar reached for the third time with a walk. Chase Adkinson singled to bring home another, and Harris doubled to bring in his fourth RBI of the night to give Palm Beach a six-run lead.
1B Kiko Romero chopped a one-out double over the first base bag into right field, and Martinez drew a free pass to set up Tampa in the fifth. With runners on first and third after a fielder’s choice, CF Cole Gabrielson singled to right field, bringing in Tampa’s second run of the game.
With two away and 2B Beau Brewer on first after a single, Riggio lifted a high fly ball to deep right field. Baez ranged back to the wall, leaped, and made a spectacular catch, robbing Riggio of his first home run.
LHP Geoffrey Gilbert took over in the seventh and did not have command early, walking the first two batters on eight pitches. Kretzschmar singled to load the bases, and Adkinson lofted a SAC-fly to right field to extend Palm Beach’s lead to six.
Tampa tacked on two runs in the ninth. With Riggio on second, Martinez hit a ground-rule double to left field, and DH Josh Moylan brought Martinez home with a single back up the middle.
The Tarpons will be back at it tomorrow against the Cardinals at GMS Field. RHP Hayden Merda will be on the mound with first pitch at 6:30 p.m.