TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (7-3) treated the home crowd to an Independence Day victory, defeating the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (2-6) at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 5-1. With the sights and sounds of fireworks in the background, the Tarpons started off hot and maintained control of the entire
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Tarpons (7-3) treated the home crowd to an Independence Day victory, defeating the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (2-6) at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 5-1. With the sights and sounds of fireworks in the background, the Tarpons started off hot and maintained control of the entire game.
Tampa jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. CF Jasson Dominguez ripped a line drive base hit to right field, followed by DH Austin Wells who also pulled a single to right. Dominguez would come around to score on a ground ball out courtesy of 1B T.J. Rumfield. With two outs, SS Alexander Vargas drilled a double off the wall to score Wells and put Tampa on top, 2-0.
RHP Tyrone Yulie (2-2) toed the rubber for Tampa and celebrated America’s birthday by putting together his best performance of the season. The right-hander fanned a season-high 10 batters and allowed only two hits over 5.1IP.
Yulie did not allow a hit until the top of the fourth inning – a single to Fort Myers’ second baseman Mikey Perez. Noah Cardenas smacked a line drive single to LF Grant Richardson and suddenly Yulie found himself in a tiny bit of a jam. With runners on second and third with two outs, Yulie let out a shout of satisfaction after Dillon Tatum waved and missed at his 2-2 offering.
C Antonio Gomez provided some 4th of July fireworks in the bottom of the fourth inning, depositing his third homer of the season into the right field seats to increase Tampa’s lead to 3-0.
In the top of the sixth, manager Rachel Balkovec called upon RHP Danny Watson to replace Yulie on the mound. Watson was effective in relief, racking up two strikeouts over 1.2 scoreless innings of work.
The bottom of the sixth appeared real promising for Tampa, who loaded the bases with one man out. Wells drew a lead off walk, 1B Ben Rice reached on an error and Gomez singled to left. With the bases juiced, 3B Marcos Cabrera rolled a routine Taylor-made double play ball to Perez at second base. Fortunately for the Tarpons, Perez was unable to field the ball cleanly and only could record the force out at second. Wells would come across to score on the mishap to give the Tarpons a 4-0 advantage.
PH/2B Ben Cowles added another insurance run with a pinch-hit solo blast off Juan Mendez in the seventh.
The Might Mussels eventually mustered up a run in the eighth with Rubel Cespedes going yard off RHP Bailey Dees, but Fort Myers was a day late and a dollar short. Balkovec turned to strike-out magician RHP Jack Neely to close the door in the ninth and he did just that.
The Tarpons return to action Wednesday night for game two of their six game set against the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. RHP Yon Castro (2-4, 3.40 ERA) is slated to make his 12th start of the season with first pitch scheduled for 6:30PM EST.