Clearwater Comes up Short in 3-2 Loss
TAMPA, Fla. -- Brandon Leibrandt and Chaz Hebert allowed just two hits combined on Sunday, as the Clearwater Threshers fell short in a 3-2 loss to Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Both lefties faced the minimum through the front three, before the Yankees (10-8) struck for three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Mark Payton drew a five-pitch walk to start, and Jose Pirela smacked a hard grounder to third. Mitch Walding would be charged with two errors on the play, as he misplayed the grounder and then fired high to first, permitting Payton to move to third and Pirela to advance to second.
After Miguel Angular was grazed by a pitch to load the bases, Mike Ford connected with a sinking liner to right-center for the first hit of the ballgame, pushing home two runs to give Tampa the advantage. A third run would score later in the frame on a wild pitch.
Hebert (1-1) held Clearwater hitless through five innings in the start.
Down 3-0 and still without a hit entering the seventh, the Threshers (9-9) put up a mark in both columns against reliever Gabe Encinas.
Angelo Mora stepped in to lead off, and on a one-strike pitch sent a liner just to the right of second that pushed through into right-center for a base hit, the first of the ballgame for Clearwater.
Andrew Pullin then walked, and Willians Astudillo was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Zach Green broke up the shutout by sending a sac fly to center to bring home Mora and make it 3-1.
Clearwater climbed closer in the eighth. With Jose Mayorga at first and two down, Pullin ripped a double to the wall in right, and the relay throw was dropped by second baseman Angelo Gumbs, permitting Mayorga to cross the plate to cut the deficit to 3-2.
The Threshers mounted one last attempt in the ninth.
With two outs, Mitch Walding lined a single to center off Connor Mullee, and Dylan Cozens entered to pinch hit for Devin Lohman. After a wild pitch advanced Walding to second with what would be the tying run, Cozens hit a hard grounder toward the hole on the right side.
The Yankees were shifting Cozens with three infielders on the right, and Gumbs redeemed himself by diving in shallow rightfield to come up with the ball and quickly throw out Cozens on a close play at first to end the game.
Leibrandt (1-1) suffered the loss despite another strong effort. The lefty would ultimately be charged with three runs - two earned - on just two hits and a walk, striking out four in his six innings.
Clearwater and Tampa will square off for game two of the series on Monday, with first pitch at 7 p.m. at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Victor Arano (0-1) is scheduled to make his second start for Clearwater, opposed by Jonathan Holder (1-0). The call can be heard live on the Threshers Broadcast Network starting at 6:45 p.m.
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