LAKELAND, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons had their season-long five-game winning streak snapped as the Lakeland Flying Tigers tallied 16 hits en route to a 9-2 win in the series-finale on Wednesday night at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Tampa (24-22, 52-60) took two-of-three to win the series in Lakeland (22-25, 51-61) and finished 5-1 on the road trip. Doing so, the Tarpons leapfrogged Dunedin for first-place in the Second-Half North Division Standings, leading by a half game with 27 games remaining.
RHP Janson Junk started for Tampa and ran into early trouble when Cole Peterson and Chad Sedio hit back-to-back singles with one out in the first. Kody Clemens followed with a ground-rule double to center, plating Peterson to open the scoring.
Sedio then scored as Brady Policelli legged out a bunt single. Junk then got an inning-ending double-play with a strikeout of Nick Ames and a pickoff of Policelli by catcher Jason Lopez .
Junk bounced back with a scoreless second, working around a base hit and a walk to strand a pair. In the third, things began to unravel for the 23-year-old.
Sedio drew a leadoff walk, followed by back-to-back doubles by Clemens and Policelli. One out later, Policelli stole third and scored on a base hit by A.J. Simcox. Luke Shirley reached on a hit-by-pitch but left the game due to injury, replaced by pinch-runner Jordan Pearce.
After a double-steal by Simcox and Pearce, Reece Hampton lined a two-run triple to right. One out later, Hampton scored on a base hit by Peterson, who took third on an error by centerfielder Estevan Florial . Sedio followed with a single to left, scoring Peterson.
The inning continued with a walk by Clemens, prompting Tampa to pull Junk. RHP Daniel Bies entered in relief and stopped the bleeding by striking out Policelli to end the inning.
Junk (L, 3-6) allowed a career-high nine runs (eight earned) 11 hits, three walks and a hit-batter, collecting three strikeouts on 73 pitches (44 strikes).
RHP Garrett Hill retired the first nine batters he faced before walking Pablo Olivares to begin the fourth. Hill got Florial to ground into a 6-3 double-play before getting a groundout by Oswaldo Cabrera to end the inning.
After tossing a perfect fifth, Hill worked around a pair of walks by Kyle Gray and Lopez in the sixth, getting Leonardo Molina to ground into a 4-3 double-play before a flyout by Olivares ended the frame.
Tampa was held hitless until the seventh, when Steven Sensley lined a two-out single to center, just out of the reach of a diving Brock Deatherage.
Hill (W, 5-4) scattered one hit and three walks over seven shutout innings, tallying five strikeouts on 87 pitches (52 strikes). It was the 23-year-old's ninth quality start and fifth of at least seven innings pitched.
Bies held the Flying Tigers scoreless for four and a third innings of relief, scattering four hits and a walk while striking out five on 78 pitches (46 strikes). RHP Kyle Zurak worked around a hit-batter and a base hit in a scoreless eighth, striking out one.
LHP Max Green relieved Hill in the eighth and Lopez smashed a two-out solo homer to left. It was Lopez's third home run and first in 181 plate appearances. Cabrera doubled and scored on a two-out single by Diego Castillo in the ninth, and Wilkerman Garcia followed with a base hit before Green struck out Gray to end the game.
Castilllo (1-for-4, RBI) and Garcia (1-for-4) each extended their hitting streaks to seven games. Sensley (1-for-4) has hit safely in five-straight games. Lopez (1-for-2, HR, BB, RBI, R) has reached base safely in a season-best eight-straight games.
Up next, the Tarpons begin an eight-game home stand with a four-game series against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. RHP Trevor Stephan (2-3, 4.40) is expected to start against RHP Drew Strotman (0-0, 3.00) in the opener on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Live play-by-play will be available on the Tampa Tarpons Baseball Network.
On "Taco Thursday," fans can enjoy an all-you-can-eat Taco and Nacho bar for $10, House Margaritas for $6 and Coronas for $4 from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.