Kasevish delivers, Dunedin downs Tampa 9-7
TAMPA, Fla. – Back and forth, back and forth. The Tampa Tarpons (31-22) dropped a heart breaker to the Dunedin Blue Jays (34-20) to begin a crucial six-game set, 9-7. The ball was flying out of George M. Steinbrenner Field as momentum shifted nearly every single frame. The contest was
TAMPA, Fla. – Back and forth, back and forth.
The Tampa Tarpons (31-22) dropped a heart breaker to the Dunedin Blue Jays (34-20) to begin a crucial six-game set, 9-7.
The ball was flying out of George M. Steinbrenner Field as momentum shifted nearly every single frame. The contest was packed with post season energy with both squads competing for the final playoff spot in the FSL West Division. Heading into Tuesday’s tilt, the Tarpons trailed the Blue Jays for first place by 1.5 games.
RHP Yorlin Calderon drew the start for Tampa – his first start since throwing a no-hitter back in May against the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Unfortunately, Calderon was unable to recreate that May magic, surrendering four earned runs over 3.2 innings pitched.
The Blue Jays came ready to play and made a loud opening statement in the top of the first. Josh Kasevich led things off with a ground ball single to center field, followed by Alan Roden who sliced a double to right. With two men on and no outs, Cade Doughty launched a no-doubter that cleared the left field fence in a hurry.
SS Alexander Vargas made sure to get one of those runs back – tripling off the center field wall and scoring on a balk by Dunedin starter Irv Carter.
The Tarpons stormed back to take the lead in the bottom of the third. CF Spencer Jones found the gap in left-center for an RBI-double which scored newcomer 3B Beau Brewer. Next up, C Antonio Gomez smoked a two-run shot over the right field wall to put Tampa ahead, 4-3.
The lead was short lived, with Dunedin knotting the score the following frame. Calderon started the fourth inning with back-to-back strike outs but failed to record the third out. Instead, Victor Mesia singled up the middle, Ryan McCarty walked, and Kasevich took an inside pitch off the wrist. Suddenly, a potentially quick inning turned into a two-out bases loaded jam. Manager Rachel Balkovec made the call to the bullpen and replaced Calderon with LHP Ryan Anderson. The southpaw was able to induce a routine ground ball to third, but Brewer was unable to scoop it cleanly. Vargas fielded the deflection and made the throw to first, but it was not in time.
DH Marcos Cabrera wasted no time putting the Tarpons back on top in the fourth, smashing his team-leading 14th home run of the season to put Tampa up by one run.
The visitors shifted momentum once again in the fifth with another long ball – this time off the bat off Devonte Brown to give Dunedin the advantage, 6-5.
What do you think happened the next frame? You guessed it!
Another huge momentum swing.
Gomez came through clutch again for Tampa in the fifth, dropping an RBI-single into right field to plate Vargas and tie the game at six apiece. The Tarpons regained the lead after 1B Anthony Garcia skied a SAC Fly to right, scoring Jones who beat the throw with a head-first dive.
After a rare scoreless sixth inning, Dunedin scratched another run across the board in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Mesia chopped an RBI-single that just snuck under Vargas’ glove and rolled into center field.
RHP Danny Watson (5-4) pitched a spotless eighth but ran into some trouble in the ninth. Estiven Machado was gifted a full-count free pass and Dylan Rock ate a fastball off the elbow to put two runners on. Both runners advanced on a SAC bunt by Mesia down the first base line. Tampa then turned to RHP Jack Neely to escape the jam.
With two men in scoring position and two out, Kasevich answered the call for Dunedin with a go-ahead two-run single through the right side of the infield.
The Tarpons went down quietly in the ninth and dropped to 2.5 games behind the Blue Jays for first place and the final playoff spot.
Both teams return to action tomorrow night for game two of their six game set. LHP Joel Valdez (1-0, 2.95 ERA) is slated to make the start – first pitched is scheduled for 6:30 PM EST.