TAMPA, Fla. - After a two-hour and thirty-minute rain delay, the Tampa Tarpons (25-25) defeated the Palm Beach Cardinals (22-26) in a shortened seven-inning game Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. After allowing a run in the first, RHP Hayden Merda set the tone, allowing Tampa’s offense to get
TAMPA, Fla. - After a two-hour and thirty-minute rain delay, the Tampa Tarpons (25-25) defeated the Palm Beach Cardinals (22-26) in a shortened seven-inning game Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. After allowing a run in the first, RHP Hayden Merda set the tone, allowing Tampa’s offense to get to work. The Tarpons struck for three runs in the third and did not look back. 2B Roc Riggio and 1B Kiko Romero each picked up RBI singles on the way to a 4-1 victory.
Following a shaky first inning, Merda (4.1IP, 4H, R, 4BB, 6K) settled down to pitch into the fifth. Merda excelled in limiting hard contact. The Cardinals’ average exit velocity off of Merda was 82.9 MPH, while his primary pitch, the slider, held Palm Beach’s batters to an average exit velocity of 80.7 MPH.
Zach Levenson roped a one-out double into the left-field corner to set up Palm Beach in the first. After advancing to third on a groundout, William Sullivan gave the Cardinals the lead with an RBI single to left field.
Leading off the third, Won-Bin Cho blooped a leadoff single into shallow right field and moved to second on a groundout. CF Cole Gabrielson showed off his arm when Michael Curialle singled into center. Cho rounded third, but Gabrielson threw a dart to C Omar Martinez to keep the deficit at one.
RF Daury Arias drew a free pass to start the third. After a fielding error with 3B Beau Brewer at bat, Tampa had runners at the corners for Riggio, who knotted the game at one with a base hit to center field. Romero followed up Riggio with another single to give Tampa the lead, and Martinez grew the lead when he brought Riggio home with a SAC-fly.
The first pitch of the fifth inning was a fastball that drilled Graysen Tarlow. With one away, Cho and Levenson worked walks to load the bases. With the game hanging in the balance, RHP Nolberto Henriquez (1-0) came in with the bases full and one away. He got the first batter he faced to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play to keep the lead intact.
Riggio reached first base on an error and swiped second base in the fifth. He advanced ninety feet on a wild pitch. After Martinez walked, SS Brenny Escanio grounded into a fielder’s choice to extend Tampa’s lead to three.
The Tarpons took their three-run lead into the ninth and turned the ball over to RHP Luis Arejula (SV 1). Arejula sat the Cardinals down in order to pick up his first save as a member of the Tarpons.
Tampa will take on Palm Beach tomorrow at GMS Field in game three of the six-game set. RHP Sean Hermann will be on the hill with first pitch at 6:30 p.m