TAMPA BAY SPORTS WEEK IN REVIEW – AUGUST 29
By Leo Haggerty

Starting a couple of new columns for our devout readers.  Here’s why.

Since March, when the pandemic reared its ugly head, all sports came to a screeching halt as it applies to fans.  The Tampa Bay area has not had a single professional or collegiate sporting event where one spectator was allowed to attend since that date.

Yes, since early July, we have seen the reemergence of our beloved sports teams.  The Lightning are back and playing well albeit north of the border.  The Rays have the best record in baseball.  The expectation for the Bucs, with the addition of TB12 and Gronk, is off the chart.  The Rowdies are building a fan base.  The Tornadoes, who happen to be the newest member our our sporting community, will begin play in the National Arena League in 2021.  USF and the University of Tampa are slowly, and carefully, bringing back their athletic teams.

The goal of Its Sports Magazine is to create a “one-stop spot” for sports.  This  allows the fans to catch up on what’s happened in the Bay area the previous week.

We will divide the workload as follows.  Senior Writer Rob Kriete will be covering a specific professional “sport in season” franchise and has begun with his quick-hitting  “Buc Up” column. Look for him to move to the Bolts and Rays when we get back to some semblance of normalcy whenever that occurs probably in 2021.  I will be handling the thumbnail review of the Tampa Bay sports week.

Our goal is to give our readers a quick synopsis of what occurred in Tampa Bay pro sports from Sunday through Saturday.  Plus, go a little more in depth with the organization that actually is playing and that will be the Buccaneers.

Just enough information to give the average sports fan a taste of what when down in the Bay area.  That will get them up to speed so they can sound intelligent when speaking around the water cooler at work on Monday.

So, without further adieu, here’s the first installment of Tampa Bay Sport Week In Review.  Enjoy.

LIGHTNING HOCKEY

Sunday – L 3-2
It was too little and too late for the Lightning as they fell to Boston in the opener of the Eastern Conference semi-final series 3-2.  The Bruins went up 3-0 early in the final period.  The Bolts got it back to a one-goal game when D Victor Hedman (2 & 3) lit the lamp twice with the final goal coming with just over a minute left in regulation.  From there, the Beantowners held on to take Game 1.
ONE BIG THING – At least one member of Boston’s Perfection Line of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak along with Patrice Bergeron participated in all three Bruins scores. The Lightning needs to come with a plan to shut them down or it’s going to be a short series.

Tuesday – W 4-3 OT
Huge win for the Bolts to even the series at a game apiece with the Bruins.  Tampa Bay let their 3-2 lead, which was their first of the series, evaporate late in the third period but F Ondrej Palat (1) put this one in the victory column at 4:40 of overtime.  After some grunt work by F Pat Maroon and F Yanni Gourde in front of the Boston net, #18 knocked a rebound past Beantown G Jaroslav Halak.
ONE BIG THING – After getting called for a penalty late in the middle period, Hedman played like a man possessed.  #77 hit anything in a different color sweater and that physicality became infectious to the rest of his teammates.

Wednesday – W 7-1
This was an old fashioned whippin’ behind the woodshed ” as Tampa Bay took a 2-1 series lead.  The Bolts went up 3-0 and, after a Boston goal in the second period, put up three unanswered middle period markers and added one for good measure in the final stanza.  Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy was perfect stopping all 23 Bruins shots at even strength.  Only Beantown marker was a power play score by Marchand (7).
ONE BIG THING – A Lightning power play that was non-existent, going 0-for 15 in the playoffs, exploded for three goals.  F Nikita Kucherov assisted on all three and it looked like Tampa Bay has solved the riddle of the Bruins penalty kill.

Saturday – W 3-1
Palat is on fire. Two more goals (3 & 4) in the first and second period and the Bolts never looked back.  Hedman (4) notched a power play marker with just under two minutes left in the middle twenty minutes.  Boston got within a goal midway through the third but #88 shut the door from there.  That puts Tampa Bay up 3-1 with Game 5 schedule for Monday at 7 pm.
ONE BIG THING – The Big Cat, who else?  Vasilevskiy had another phenomena night saving 20 of 21 shots with the only Boston goal, for the second game in a row, coming with the man advantage.

Next game – Monday, August 31 vs Boston Bruins – 7 pm

RAYS BASEBALL

Sunday –  W 5-4
Rays erase a 2-0 deficit with three in the 5th and two in the 7th then hold on for the victory.  On a side note, Manager Kevin Cash was thrown out of the tilt arguing a check-swing call in the top of the 6th.
ONE BIG THING – Really two.  SP Josh Fleming and RP John Curtiss.  Fleming pitched five solid innings in his debut, and after the Rays had rallied from a 2-0 deficit and waded through some late-inning trouble, Curtiss finished the deal with a five-out save.  Fleming win his MLB debut and Curtiss notches his first save.

Monday – L 6-4
Blue Jays score three in the 7th to take the lead for good and salvage a split of the four-game series at the Trop.  The big blow was a three-run shot by Randal Grichuk who deposited a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall to give the Blue Jays a two-run lead.
ONE BIG THING – Easy call here.  The Grichuk dinger off lefty RP Aaron Loup.

Tuesday – W 4-2
Rays come out of the gate quickly posting a three-spot in the 2nd on back-to-back jacks by Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.  That was enough for SP Tyler Glasnow who allowed two earned runs over 7 innings and posting 13 strikeouts to get the win.
ONE BIG THING – Another no-brainer.  Glasnow’s 13 K’s in seven innings.  Longest outing of the season for #20.

Wednesday – W 4-3
Rays made it two-in-a-row.  The Orioles scored two in the 1st but Tampa Bay tied it with a deuce of their own in the 3rd.  Both teams posted singletons until Rays C Michael Perez homered in the 8th to provide the margin of victory.
ONE BIG THING – TB pitching staff.  With 10 pitchers on the Injured List, the Rays are getting outstanding performances on the bump from unknows like Trevor Richards and Ryan Sherriff.

Friday – W 2-0
With Thursday’s finale with the O’s postponed, Tampa travelled to Miami and posted their third win in a row.  After seven scoreless innings by both teams, the Rays plated singletons in the 8th and 9th on RBI single by Yandi Diaz and Perez to secure the victory.
ONE BIG THING – Anytime you put up nine innings of goose eggs, it’s the pitching.  Ryan Yarborough goes 6 2/3 until he feels a twinge in his groin.  Hopefully, it’s not serious.  That’s all TB would need is another pitcher to go on the IL.

Saturday – W 4-0
Another pitcher duel for five innings.  Rays plate one in the 6th and 7th and two in the eighth to run their winning streak to four.  Two-run ground-ruke double by Joey Wendle provided the insurance.
ONE BIG THING – Pitching again.  Five Rays hurlers throw a combine three-hit shutout and Fleming posted his 2nd win of the week

Next game – Sunday, August 30 at Miami Marlins – 1:10 pm

BUCCANEERS FOOTBALL

NO GAMES SCHEDULED THIS WEEK

Next game – Sunday, September 13 at New Orleans Saints – 4:25 pm

ROWDIES SOCCER

NO GAMES SCHEDULED THIS WEEK

Next game – Sunday, September 6 at Bethlehem Steel – 7:30 pm

TORNADOES FOOTBALL

NO GAMES SCHEDULED THIS WEEK

Next game – No 2021 schedule is available at this time. The Tornadoes will play in Expo Hall that is located at the Florida State Fairgrounds.  Seating capacity is just a touch over 10,000.

UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA ATHLETICS

NO GAMES SCHEDULED THIS WEEK

UT teams will not engage in fall sports competition due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  The affected sports include men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball. Those sports are now planned to begin competition for the 2020-21 season in the spring. Additionally, spring sports including lacrosse, tennis, golf, baseball, softball and rowing will not compete in the fall semester. The University will work with the Sunshine State Conference and the NCAA to coordinate details for the upcoming season.  Decisions surrounding winter and spring sport competition will be made at a later date.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA ATHLETICS

NO GAMES SCHEDULED THIS WEEK
ONE BIG THING – On Thursday, USF announced the signing of a three-game series with Notre Dame.  The series will begin in the 2020 season with South Florida taking on the Irish at South Bend on Saturday, September 19.  This will replace the Bulls cancelled home tilt with Nevada.  Future home-and-home dates have yet to be determined.  ND will be coming to Raymond James Stadium and USF will make a return visit to northern Indiana. Also, the 2020 kickoff time will be decided at a later date.

Next game – Men’s Soccer – Saturday, September 5 vs Temple Owls – TBA