By Josh Vitale, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The misery of Friday’s doubleheader can be summed up with one inning.
Already trailing by six and headed toward their second loss of the night, the Charlotte Stone Crabs put position player Pat Blair on the mound for the second time in three days to save the bullpen and eat the final inning of a blowout loss.
But even a white flag of surrender didn’t stop Jupiter’s onslaught. The Hammerheads chased Blair from the game before the infielder even recorded a second out, scoring five runs (three earned) on three hits and three walks.
Jace Conrad came over from second base to mercifully end the inning, but it didn’t help Charlotte escape what had turned into a 12-4 rout in Game 2 against Jupiter.
“We just did not have a good day,” said manager Michael Johns, whose Stone Crabs lost the opener 3-1. “It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure that out.”
In Game 1, starter Chris Pike pitched a complete game and allowed three runs (one earned) on eight hits, but was ainted the tough-luck loser for his efforts.
Charlotte’s offense mustered just seven hits off Jupiter starter Jorgan Cavanerio over his 6 2⁄3 innings, not scoring until Conrad doubled and crossed the plate on Cristian Toribio’s single in the final frame.
The Hammerheads didn’t do much more with their eight hits, but Brad Haynal’s two-run double in the second and Brian Anderson’s sacrifice fly in the fifth proved more than enough to stay ahead of a Stone Crabs lineup that went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base.
The Stone Crabs showed how necessary Pike’s seven innings were in Game 2, as three relievers and two position players combined to walk 14 batters.
Starter Jeff Howell seemed to lose grip of his knuckleball after striking out one in a scoreless first inning, allowing seven runs (five earned) on three hits and six walks over his next 1 1⁄3 innings.
Three of those runs came home after Howell left the bases loaded with one out for right-hander Ian Gibaut, who allowed a sacrifice fly to Junior Sosa and a two-run single to Anderson.
“It’s just uncharacteristic of us,” Johns said. “But it happens.”
Jupiter starter Andrew Buckelew, on the other hand, didn’t allow a baserunner until he walked Thomas Milone to lead off the third. He didn’t give up a hit until Landon Cray, playing in his first game since Monday, singled with two outs in the inning.
All of Charlotte’s runs in the second game came off reliever Victor Araujo, who served up a solo home run to Alec Sole in the sixth, and a two-run triple to Cray and a sacrifice fly to Conrad in the seventh.
If there was any consolation Friday, it was that Blair, who suffered so much on the mound, singled and scored in the final frame.
“We play (tonight) at 6:05,” Johns said. “That’s all I’m focusing on.”
HAMMERHEADS 3-12, STONE CRABS 1-4
HITTER OF THE NIGHT
Brian Anderson, Hammerheads: After going 0-for-3 in Game 1, the designated hitter erupted in Game 2, going 2-for-3 with two walks, three RBIs and a run scored.
PITCHER OF THE NIGHT
Jorgan Cavanerio, Hammerheads: Nearly got through a complete game in Game 1, allowing one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out four over 6 2/3 innings.
Third, Game 2: The three-run second was bad, but the third was worse as starter Jeff Howell and reliever Ian Gibault combined to allow four runs on two hits and five walks.
THEY SAID IT
Manager Michael Johns: “(Pat Blair) pitched two days ago, but I think he just kind of lost his release point. It’s tough to put him in that spot. He did what he could.”