In what was billed as a marquee pitching matchup, the Tampa Tarpons dropped the second of 16 scheduled meetings against the Lakeland Flying Tigers 6-5 to move to 1-1 in 2018. The Flying Tigers sent 2017 18th overall pick and Tampa native Alex Faedo to the mound while the Tarpons countered with #13 overall prospect according to Pinstriped Prospects Freicer Perez.
The pitching duel got off to a shaky start as Faedo surrendered back to back home runs in the top of the 1st to Estevan Florial and Brandon Wagner. Faedo hit a batter before retiring the side to complete his first inning of professional baseball. Freicer Perez started the first inning strong retiring the first two batters before surrendering a walk to top prospect Daz Cameron then allowing back to back RBI hits by Isaac Paredes and Blaise Salter. Perez would finish the inning only allowing two runs.
Both pitchers would settle down and put up zeros in the next three frames. Although he didn’t allow any damage Perez’s pitch count was high as he was on the bad end of some close pitches all evening. He was relieved in the 5th inning after surrendering a walk and recording one out. Perez pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits and four walks, he struck out nine batters in the game. His fastball sat between 94-96 touching 98 a handful of times in the early going.
Philip Diehl the losing pitcher came on in relief of Perez with one out in the 5th and allowed the inherited runner to score. The Tarpons would tie the game in the 6th on a single and a throwing error by RF Jose Azocar. The tie wouldn’t last long as the Flying Tigers came roaring back in the bottom of the 6th scoring three runs on Diehl. Diehl went 1 2/3 innings allowing three earned runs on five hits and struck out one. Matt Frawley would come on to pitch two scoreless innings.
The Tarpons would add a run in the seventh and eighth bringing the game to 6-5 heading into the ninth. Angel Aguilar who put on a defensive display at the hot corner led off the inning with a triple only to be stranded at 3rd after three batters couldn’t bring him home.
These two teams do it again on Saturday in Tampa as the Tarpons get set for their home opener at George M. Steinbrenner Field.