Serna and Company shutout Marauders

RHP Luis Serna (6.0IP, 3H, 7K) and the Tampa Tarpons’ (11-24) bullpen combined to blank the Bradenton Marauders (16-19) Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field, ending Bradenton’s eleven-game win streak. Tampa’s offense struck for three in the fourth, capped off by a two-run double off the bat of 2B Hans Montero on the way to a 5-0 victory.

Serna was the star of the show, tossing a dazzling six shutout innings. He built off his last outing, continuing to ramp up the usage on his changeup. Wednesday night, his changeup was his primary pitch, as he threw it 34% of the time. Serna also pounded the strike zone, not allowing any walks while fanning eight. 

The duo of RHP Jordy Luciano and RHP Aaron Nixon (S,2) held the shutout intact for Tampa, throwing three shutout innings to end the game. Luciano’s biggest moment came in the seventh, when he escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs. The two combined to tally four strikeouts on the way to victory.

Tampa entered the fourth without a hit and got a walk from 3B Roderick Arias. He swiped second base, and then, with two away, LF Jackson Castillo worked another free pass. On the walk, R. Arias had a heads-up play on the bases as he took third base when Bradenton’s catcher, Omar Alfonzo, was caught sleeping behind the plate. CF Willy Montero worked another walk to load the bases. The contactless inning continued when Antwone Kelly balked on the mound to plate R. Arias for the game's first run. Following the balk, H. Montero ripped a double into the right field corner, scoring Castillo and W. Montero.

Bradenton’s best chance to score came in the seventh inning. Luciano relieved Serna after six shutout innings and immediately walked Esmerlyn Valdez, Alfonzo, and Eddy Rodriguez to load the bases. Luciano buckled down, retiring the next three batters to escape the threat without giving up a run.

With two away in the eighth, R. Arias roped a double to right field. 1B Dylan Jasso stepped up to the plate and did what he does best: hit. Jasso brought home R. Arias for his league-leading 24th RBI of the season to extend Tampa’s lead to four. W. Montero padded the Tarpons’ lead, dunking a bloop single into shallow center to bring home Castillo. 

The Tarpons will host the Marauders for game three of the six-game set tomorrow with RHP Cade Smith scheduled on the bump. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m., with all the tacos you can eat available for Taco ‘Bout Thursday at GMS Field.

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