By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Stone Crabs didn’t have many opportunities with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, but they took advantage once, and that’s all they needed.
Andrew Velazquez’s two-out single in the seventh inning scored Cristian Toribio, who led off the frame with a double, to give Charlotte a 1-0 win over the Jupiter Hammerheads.
“It’s old cliché that everyone is pressing,” manager Michael Johns said. “It’s just like hitting. Hitting is contagious, and so is putting pressure on yourself. Everyone feels like they have to do too much. Once a couple of guys start getting hot, we’ll be fine.”
The Stone Crabs were just 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position, which was obviously better than the 0-for-10 from the Hammerheads.
This was the 11th time this season the Stone Crabs blanked their opponents, as three pitchers combined for the shutout.
Chase Whitley was excellent in what was his third and likely final rehab start with the Stone Crabs. The Tampa Bay Rays right-hander held the Hammerheads scoreless over six innings of work.
Whitley had six strikeouts while allowing four hits and hitting on batter. He only allowed one hit after the first inning, where he got out of a bases-loaded jam with a flyout to right field.
Making the catch to end that threat was another rehabbing Ray, Oswaldo Arcia, who had a long run to get to the line. With the bat, Arcia went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Steve Ascher and Ian Gibaut preserved the shutout in three innings of relief work. Ascher allowed two hits with three strikeouts over 1.2 innings, and Gibaut allowed one hit in 1.1 innings to record the save.
That was enough for the Charlotte bats, as the Stone Crabs were set down on strikes 10 different times. Joe McCarthy and Thomas Milone each accounted for two of those, and Riley Unroe was the only one to not strikeout.