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Tarpons drop extra innings heartbreaker to Flying Tigers

Jared Serna greets Coach Lino Diaz as he rounds the bases following a 3-run homer on Saturday. (Damon Gonzalez (LatinBox Baseball))
July 16, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (9-8) played "Bonus Cantos", as Michael Kay famously says, against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (12-5) on Latin Heritage Night Saturday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Tampa’s only scoring came in the second inning when SS Jared Serna launched his third home run in the

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (9-8) played "Bonus Cantos", as Michael Kay famously says, against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (12-5) on Latin Heritage Night Saturday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Tampa’s only scoring came in the second inning when SS Jared Serna launched his third home run in the past two games. The Flying Tigers tied the game in the ninth, took the lead in the tenth, and held on to extend their winning streak to twelve games.

Tampa’s ace, LHP Brock Selvidge (5.1IP, 5H, R, 7K), was lights out once again. He only used two pitches, his fastball and slider, but that was enough to rack up seven strikeouts. Selvidge gave up five hits, but three of them were bloops having an exit velocity under 77 MPH. He lowered his ERA to 3.38, which ranks him third in the FSL among qualified pitchers.

Luke Gold picked up Lakeland’s first hit on an infield single in the first and moved into scoring position when he stole second base. With two away, Jose De La Cruz dropped a single into shallow center to plate the game’s first run.

In the second frame, LF Jake Palmer got plunked by a slider, and 1B Beau Brewer ripped a double into the left-field corner to put two men in scoring position for Tampa. With one away, Serna stepped up and picked up right where he left off last night. Serna blasted a three-run homer over the wall in right-center. Serna now has 17 long balls on the season, which leads the FSL.

Andrew Jenkins led off the sixth, reaching first on a fielding error. He stole second base and moved up to third on a flyout by De La Cruz. With one away and Jenkins on third, LHP Geoffrey Gilbert took over for Selvidge. With the infield playing halfway and Rothenberg batting, he grounded a ball to 3B Jesus Rodriguez, who fired home to C Omar Martinez to nab Jenkins at the plate and keep the two-run lead intact.

The Flying Tigers put runners on first and second when the lineup flipped over to the top of the order in the seventh. Two wild pitches cut Tampa’s lead to one and put J.D. McLaughlin on third base. With the infield drawn in, 2B Brenny Escanio ranged to the outfield grass to make an over-the-shoulder grab and keep McLaughlin on third. With two away, newly entered RHP Adam Stone got Jenkins to chase a slider in the dirt and hold the one-run lead.

Lakeland tied the game in the ninth. Archer Brookman managed to reach base after RHP Matt Keating dropped the ball while covering first base. McLaughlin bounced into a fielder’s choice, and Seth Stephenson reached on an E5. A single from Gold loaded the bases, and a wild pitch brought in the tying run.

De La Cruz started the tenth inning on second base, acting as the ghost runner, and advanced to third on a groundout. Abel Bastidas brought in the go-ahead and eventual winning run on an RBI base knock to left field.

The Tarpons were able to get the tying run to third base for their top of the order, but Serna and Rodriguez grounded out to end the game.

Tampa will look to salvage the final game of the three-game set tomorrow against the Flying Tigers. First pitch is at 12:00 p.m. with RHP Hayden Merda on the mound at George M. Steinbrenner Field.