By Josh Vitale, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Stone Crabs have scored five or more runs in eight of 38 games this season. On the day after those games, they’ve averaged just more than two runs per contest.
So when Charlotte plated nine runs in a win over Jupiter on Saturday night, manager Michael Johns figured Sunday’s matinee would be a low-scoring affair.
Or, as it turns out, a no-scoring affair.
Brian Anderson hit the go-ahead two-run triple off Stone Crabs reliever Brian Miller in the top of the 11th inning as Jupiter exited Charlotte Sports Park with a 2-0 victory.
“That was a tough one,” shortstop Alec Sole said.
Charlotte started its response to Saturday’s nine-run outburst with four innings of no-hit ball against Hammerheads starter Dillon Peters, who needed only 73 pitches to befuddle the Stone Crabs over seven scoreless frames.
Mac James finally put the home team’s first hit on the board to lead off the fifth, and Jace Conrad followed it with another single that gave the Stone Crabs two on and no outs. Peters, though retired Cristian Toribio, Thomas Milone and Pat Blair — two of them on swinging strikeouts — to neutralize the threat.
Conrad and Toribio batted in another big spot in the ninth after reliever Esmerling De La Rosa gave up a pair of one-out singles to Nick Ciuffo and James, but Conrad grounded out and Toribio struck out for a third time.
The Stone Crabs put only one runner on base in extras, Blair, but he was doubled off at second shortly after.
“That’s frustrating,” Johns said of Charlotte’s 0-for-6 mark with runners in scoring position. “It came back to haunt us, and you had a feeling it would in that kind of game.”
Stone Crabs pitchers matched Jupiter’s almost frame-for-frame, starting with injured Tampa Bay Rays closer Brad Boxberger, who pitched a scoreless first in his first rehab appearance as he works his way back from March core muscle repair surgery.
Right-hander Hunter Wood, who entered Sunday with a career 4.61 ERA at Charlotte Sports Park compared to a 1.11 road mark, exorcised some of his demons at the Stone Crabs’ home park with seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out seven.
“Everything was coming out really good today,” Wood said. “I got ahead of batters and I had my offspeed working. I just tried to keep the ball low in the zone and let my teammates make plays behind me.”
Even Miller, who took his first loss of the season, pitched well, facing the minimum in the ninth and 10th innings.
The right-hander just couldn’t carry it over into the 11th in his first outing of more than two innings since September of last year. Junior Sosa reached on an error and Justin Bohn singled to set up Anderson’s heroics.
“Miller was outstanding. He deserved a better fate than that,” Johns said. “Either way, it’s a tough loss.”
HAMMERHEADS 2, STONE CRABS 0 (11)
HITTER OF THE NIGHT
Brian Anderson, Hammerheads: The third baseman went 2-for-4, including the two-run double in the 11th that proved to be the game-winning hit.
PITCHER OF THE NIGHT
Hunter Wood, Stone Crabs: Piggybacking on injured Rays closer Brad Boxberger’s scoreless first inning, Wood allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven scoreless innings.
Fifth: The Stone Crabs finally recorded their first hit in the frame and had runners on second and third with no outs, but couldn’t plate a run off Jupiter starter Dillon Peters.
THEY SAID IT
Right-hander Hunter Wood: “We’re going to have days like that. More so than not. But we’ll get back to it tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll win tomorrow. That’s all you can ask for.”