By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The sky lit up from a flash of lightning, and less than a second later, a loud, booming clap of thunder chased the players off the field.
Wednesday’s Charlotte Stone Crabs game was called in the bottom of the sixth inning, enough to make the game official, giving Charlotte a 1-0 victory over the Jupiter Hammerheads for the second straight night.
“It has to be a collective decision between me and the other manager,” Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said on the decision to call Wednesday’s game. “If I was down in the game, I would want some compassion from the other manager, and most of the other managers are the same way. You don’t want to cheat someone out of a win, but if the field is unplayable, you put your players in harms way, and at the end of the day, I think that’s what we would have done if we had played tonight.”
Right-hander Greg Harris (9-6) picked up right where his fellow pitchers left off the night before, tossing six scoreless frames. Tuesday night, Chase Whitley, working on a rehab assignment for Tampa Bay, and two relievers blanked the Florida State League South Division leaders on seven hits over nine innings.
Harris had at least one strikeout in each of the six innings, totaling seven for the night. He allowed three hits and three walks, while only two runners advanced to scoring position.
“I think he’s really put in a lot of hard work,” Johns said. “He’s really listened to our pitching coach Doc and the pitching coordinator, and he’s really reinvented himself. His velocity keeps creeping up at a time where everyone else’s velocity in this league usually goes down.”
Cristian Toribio, a typical bottom-of-the-order batter for the Stone Crabs was the cleanup hitter on Wednesday, and rewarded his manager for the decision by going 3-for-3. The third baseman scored the game’s only run on Tuesday, and did the same thing Wednesday, crossing the plate on a sacrifice fly by Jace Conrad.
The win moved Charlotte within one game of Jupiter, with the final game of a three-game set scheduled for Thursday. A win could potentially give the Stone Crabs a tie for first place, depending on the outcome of St. Lucie’s game at Fort Myers.
The Mets defeated the Miracle 6-3 on Wednesday night to move within one-half game of first place.