By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Stone Crabs and Bradenton Marauders spent more time sitting in the clubhouse (one hour, 56 minutes) than they did in the dugout (1:37) during Monday’s rain-shortened Florida State League game.
After a lengthy weather delay halted action with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, umpires eventually decided to call the game — which became official after the fifth inning — giving the Stone Crabs a 4-3 victory. It was Charlotte’s fourth straight win in the two-city, six-game series that continues at 6:35 p.m. today.
Charlotte starting pitcher Chris Pike (3-6) picked up the win while holding Bradenton to three runs on seven hits, earning his first victory since May 28.
The Stone Crabs added what turned out to be a much-needed run in the fourth when Cristian Toribio reached on an infield single. As it turned out, Toribio ended up representing the game-winning run as he scored on a triple by Thomas Milone for a 4-2 lead.
Toribio had a pair of singles and stolen bases in the win.
Charlotte never trailed in this one after Justin Williams hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. Williams picked up Monday where he left off Sunday night when he went 3-for-4 in a 3-1 win.
Bradenton got even in the top of the third when Pablo Reyes and Kevin Kramer led off the frame with back-to-back singles. Elias Diaz drove in Reyes on a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat and Kramer moved to third. Chase Simpson the plated Kramer with another sacrifice fly to tie the game 2-2.
The Stone Crabs regained the lead for good in their half of the third inning thanks to Joe McCarthy’s leadoff triple and Alex Sole’s grounder to short.
Pike was able to pitch well with the lead, as he worked his way into and out of a jam in the second inning, when he allowed a one-out triple to Jordan Luplow. Pike followed the triple with a walk, a shallow fly out, and another walk to load the bases with two outs. A fly ball to left neutralized the threat and preserved the Stone Crabs’ 2-0 lead.
The Charlotte right-hander displayed his athleticism in the fourth inning, when he dove across the third-base line to catch a failed bunt attempt by Wyatt Mathisen.
Luplow tripled again in the sixth inning and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to cut Charlotte’s lead to 4-3. However, that was a close as the Marauders could get as the rains and lightning came in the bottom of the inning.
STONE CRABS 4, MARAUDERS 3
HITTER OF THE GAME
Justin Williams, Stone Crabs: Williams started Charlotte on the right foot with his first-inning two-run homer. It set the tone for the Stone Crabs, who never trailed in the win.
PITCHER OF THE GAME
Chris Pike, Stone Crabs: The Charlotte right-hander earned his first win since May 28 in the complete-game victory. Pike tossed six innings, allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out one batter.
Sixth: One of the loudest thunder claps you will ever hear forced home plate umpire Grant Conrad to call for a weather delay following more than a half-hour of nearly continuous lightning strikes in the area. Despite only a few minutes of severe rain, the game was eventually called after one hour, 56 minutes of a delay.