TAMPA, Fla. – Entering the day a half game back of first place, the Tampa Tarpons fell further behind as the Dunedin Blue Jays swept a doubleheader, 7-3 and 5-4, on Sunday afternoon in the season-series finale. Tampa (33-24) now trails Dunedin (36-22) by 2.5 games with a seven-game series
TAMPA, Fla. – Entering the day a half game back of first place, the Tampa Tarpons fell further behind as the Dunedin Blue Jays swept a doubleheader, 7-3 and 5-4, on Sunday afternoon in the season-series finale. Tampa (33-24) now trails Dunedin (36-22) by 2.5 games with a seven-game series in Daytona set to wrap up the regular season.
The Blue Jays struck early in Game One, with the first two batters reaching base against RHP Zach Messinger. One out later, a run scored on a groundout by Peyton Williams, and Devonte Brown followed with two-out RBI single, giving Dunedin a 2-0 lead in the first.
Messinger settled down and retired seven-straight batters before yielding a leadoff single to Brown in the fourth. Back-to-back singles followed to load the bases and, one out later, Marcos De La Rosa lined a two-run double down the left field line. De La Rosa later scored on a base hit by Alan Roden, giving the Blue Jays a 5-0 advantage.
Tampa was held in check by a pair of rehabbing right-handers in Nate Pearson (1.0IP) and Conor Larkin (1.0IP) before RHP Rafael Sanchez took over in the third. Sanchez retired five-straight before the Tarpons strung together three-straight two-out hits, capped by a two-run line drive single to center by Brett Barrera, cutting the deficit to 5-2.
Messinger (L, 1-8) retired the first two batters in the fifth before departing. The righty allowed five earned runs on seven hits and two walks in four and two-third innings, striking out five on 82 pitches (54 strikes).
Dunedin added on in the sixth when Manuel Beltre smacked a leadoff homer to left. Later in the frame, an RBI single by Cade Doughty gave the Blue Jays a 7-2 lead.
Tampa got one run back in the home half off LHP Ryan Chasse with a solo blast by Anthony Garcia – his 14th of the season. Chasse (W, 3-0) completed the sixth and held the Tarpons scoreless in the seventh to earn the win in relief.
Following an intermission, Game Two got underway, and Tampa opened the scoring in the home half of the first. Alexander Vargas hustled for a double as the Dunedin defense failed to catch an infield popup. A wild pitch sent Vargas to third before a sacrifice fly by Antonio Gomez gave the Tarpons a 1-0 lead.
In the third, Tampa hit three-straight singles off LHP Kendry Rojas to begin the frame, including an RBI single by Vargas. Two outs later, Barrera pulled a ground-rule double down the right field line, driving home one more for a 3-0 lead.
RHP Yorlin Calderon got the nod for Tampa and retired 11 of the first 13 batters he faced before yielding a two-out single to Brown in the fourth. Roque Salinas followed with a two-run homer to right, cutting the lead to 3-2.
Calderon worked around a two-out double in a scoreless fifth to complete his outing. The right-hander held Dunedin to two earned runs on five hits in five innings, walking none while striking out four on 73 pitches (49 strikes).
RHP Osiel Rodriguez (H, 1) relieved Calderon in the sixth and struck out a pair of a scoreless frame. In the seventh, RHP Kevin Stevens (BS, 1) got two quick outs before walking Ryan McCarty. Josh Kasevich and Estiven Machado followed with back-to-back singles, tying the game at 3-3.
LHP Trey Cumbie entered for Dunedin in the seventh and Raimfer Salinas hit a one-out single, took second on a wild pitch and third on a flyout by Spencer Jones before Vargas popped out to force the game into extras.
RHP Shaine McNeely (L, 0-1) recorded the final out of the seventh before returning for the eighth, with Doughty at second base as the extra-inning runner. Doughty took third on a groundout and, one walk later, scored as Roque Salinas reached on a fielder’s choice. Dylan Rock followed with an RBI double, giving the Blue Jays a 5-3 lead.
Vargas began the bottom of the eighth at second base and took third on a balk by Cumbie before scoring on a groundout by Gomez. Cumbie (W, 5-0) then got Ben Rice to fly out before inducing a popout by Barrera to end the game.
After Labor Day, the Tarpons travel across the state to conclude the regular season with seven games against the Daytona Tortugas. The series will start with a doubleheader on Tuesday, September 6, including the continuation of the game suspended on July 17. The scoreless game will pick up with Tampa batting in the bottom of the fourth with a runner at first and one out.