By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Charlotte didn’t have an answer for Palm Beach pitcher Matt Pearce Thursday night, as the Stone Crabs fell 2-1 against the Cardinals.
Pearce (8-5) dominated Charlotte from the first pitch until the last, and was extremely economical in the win. He threw just 52 pitches through the first six innings, and totaled 84 for the outing.
“The guy came at us with a fastball that he located well,” Charlotte Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said. “We were aggressive and played right into his hand. To go a complete game in this league is very rare. You’ve got to tip your cap to him. He had every pitch going.”
The Palm Beach right-hander held the Stone Crabs to three hits over nine innings of work.
Charlotte sent the minimum 21 batters to the plate through the first seven innings, as both of the first two basehits for the Stone Crabs were nullified by a double play.
It wasn’t until Grant Kay’s home run with two outs in the eighth that Charlotte finally got to Pearce. The dinger was the seventh of the season for Kay.
“Obviously the two double plays hurt us,” Johns said. “We were able to get the leadoff man on twice, and weren’t able to do anything with it. We had the chance to tack one on early, and then obviously Grant Kay’s home run would’ve been a lot bigger.”
Riley Unroe had a leadoff single in the fourth, but when Mac James hit a hard line drive to first base, it allowed Casey Grayson to double him up. Similar thing happened in the fifth when Justin Williams began things with a basehit, but Alec Sole canceled it out.
Charlotte starting pitcher Grayson Garvin made his first start of the season for Charlotte, as he was promoted from the Gulf Coast League Thursday morning.
Garvin threw five strong innings in his 2016 Stone Crabs debut, allowing just one run on two hits with three strikeouts. The only Cardinals’ batter to get a hit off Garvin was Orlando Oliviera, with a solo home run in the third, who later added a single in the fifth.
“If anything stood out tonight, it was Grayson Garvin,” Johns said. “That guy knows how to pitch. For his first time under the lights, that’s about as good as we could expect.”
Catcher Mac James stole four outs from the Cardinals on the base paths, as he caught three runners trying to steal, and another attempting to advance on a ball in the dirt.
Ian Gibaut relieved Garvin in the sixth inning, and allowed one run over three innings of work. Gibaut worked his way into a jam in the seventh, but got out of it with a key strikeout and runners on the corners.