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Negueis ties it, Arias ends it - Tarpons walk-off Jays, 6-5

Felix Negueis ties the game in the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo HR on Thursday night at GMS Field. (Maggie Christensen)
July 27, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (14-13) took down the Dunedin Blue Jays (11-16) in walk-off fashion Thursday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. After falling behind early, the Tarpons clawed their way back into the game and capped off the evening with a walk-off single in the ninth from

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (14-13) took down the Dunedin Blue Jays (11-16) in walk-off fashion Thursday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. After falling behind early, the Tarpons clawed their way back into the game and capped off the evening with a walk-off single in the ninth from CF Daury Arias. Arias and RF Felix Negueis both entered off the bench in the sixth inning and played vital roles in the victory. Negueis launched the game-tying homer in the eighth, and Arias ended it in the ninth with his walk-off single.

Despite the crooked number on the scoreboard, RHP Baron Stuart (6.0IP, 8H, 5R, ER, 2BB, 6K) ended his July on a strong note. He tossed six innings while only giving up one earned run. Stuart ends July with a 1.48 ERA in four starts, in which he totaled 24.1 innings pitched. Stuart limited hard contact Thursday night, holding Dunedin’s batters to an average exit velocity of 78.5 MPH. He racked up six strikeouts, with his fastball being the swing-and-miss pitch.

In the midst of Tampa’s comeback effort, RHP Osiel Rodriguez held the Blue Jays scoreless in his two innings of work while tallying five strikeouts. His sinker and changeup were his two most relied-upon pitches, both generating a whiff percentage of 75%.

Tucker Toman led off the night with a double against the shifted infield that rolled down the left-field line. After a strikeout, Peyton Williams beat out an infield single, but the throw to first from Stuart was in the dirt and trickled past 1B Beau Brewer, allowing Toman to score.

2B Jared Serna recorded all three assists in the second inning. The third and final out was a play tailored for an ESPN highlight reel. Serna ranged to the shortstop side of the second base bag and made a Jeter-esque jump throw across his body to nab Rikelbin De Castro.

Nic Deschamps worked a one-out walk in the third frame and moved to second on a base hit to right field off the bat of Toman. Bryce Arnold stepped up to the dish and collected his first professional hit and RBI with a single to center field, which gave Dunedin a two-run lead. LF Jake Palmer could not handle a fly ball, which brought in another run. Abiezel Ramirez hustled out another infield single, which brought in Arnold, but an errant throw from 3B Jesus Rodriguez led Dunedin to their fourth run of the frame.

Rodriguez laced a 105.2 MPH single to right center field to start the home half of the fourth and advanced 90 feet on a groundout. After moving to third on a wild pitch, CF Anthony Hall brought Rodriguez home on a SAC-fly to center in his first game back from the IL.

The Blue Jays called on Michael Brewer, who immediately walked the first two batters he faced. Beau Brewer won the Brewer vs. Brewer matchup with a bloop single, which loaded the bases for the top of the order. Serna grounded out to second base, but DH Brett Barrera scored from third. Rodriguez picked up his second single of the day, bringing home two more to pull the Tarpons within one.

One swing was all it took for the Tarpons to tie the game in the eighth. Negueis blasted the game-tying solo shot over the wall in right field. The long ball was a big moment for Negueis, who collected his second homer of the season.

Things got a bit funky in the ninth. With one out, Rodriguez bounced a routine groundball to third, but Toman’s throw was in the dirt, and Williams helped him out with a scoop. Manager Rachel Balkovec argued with field umpire Shea Graham that Williams’ foot was off the base. After Graham and the home plate umpire Chad Lagana, huddled to discuss the play, they deemed that Williams' foot was off the bag, and Rodriguez was ruled safe. Arias stepped up with two and lined a sharp single to center field, which moved Rodriguez to third; however, Jaden Rudd had trouble playing the ball, and Lino Diaz waved his arm, sending Rodriguez home for the Tarpons’ fifth walk-off win of the season.

RHP Leonardo Pestana will toe the slab tomorrow when the Tarpons host the Blue Jays. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at GMS Field.