PORT CHARLOTTE — Saturday was an afternoon to forget for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, as they fell 11-2 to the Bradenton Marauders in the first game of the Florida State League doubleheader.
The visitors (64-59) erupted for seven runs in the fifth inning to take a 11-1 lead in a game that had pretty much already seemed out of reach for the Stone Crabs (61-61).
Charlotte scored its first run in the fourth inning before even registering a hit. Andrew Velazquez reached third base after a walk, ground out and wild pitch.
On a short fly out to right field from Grant Kay, Velazquez, who initially wasn’t tagging, alertly scored when the throw from Michael Suchy tipped off the glove of first baseman Jerrick Suiter in an attempt to cut off the throw to home.
Through the first four innings, Velazquez was the only Stone Crab to reach base, which he did twice thanks to that walk and an error in the first. He also had a run batted in with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning after Thomas Milone’s team-leading fifth triple of the season.
Cristian Toribio collected Charlotte’s first hit with a leadoff single in the fifth inning.
Chris Pike (4-10) was hit hard for single after single in the loss. He surrendered nine hits, eight of which were a singles, and most of those were hard-hit straight up the middle.
The lone non-single Pike allowed was a home run by Suchy in the fourth. Pike was tagged for four earned runs, plus three more unearned. He left the game with one out in the fifth inning, as Jeff Howell received a pair of inherited runners, both of whom scored.
Howell hit a batter to load the bases, walked another to score a run, and then gave up a grand slam to Justin Maffei to give Bradenton a 10-1 lead.
The game was a makeup of Friday’s postponement. Saturday’s regularly schedule game followed, but it wasn’t complete at presstime. Visit suncoastsportsnow.com for a report on the nightcap.