STONE CRABS: 4th-inning hiccup hurts Charlotte again

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

Charlotte Stone Crabs Shortstop Jake Cronenworth (2) tags out Marauders DH Jordan George (10) trying to steal second during the second inning Friday at Charlotte Sports Park. (Sun Photo by Tom O’Neill).

PORT CHARLOTTE — The fourth inning plagued a Charlotte Stone Crabs starting pitcher for the second night in a row.

A 9-3 win for the Bradenton Marauders isn’t indicative of how close the game was for a majority of Friday night, but the Stone Crabs couldn’t overcome the mid-game deficit despite taking an early lead.

“We swung the bat well tonight,” Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said. “We only scored three runs, but we hit the ball hard. I think we had 13 or 14 well hit balls and they just didn’t fall.”

Starting pitcher Blake Bivens looked strong in his five-frame outing, minus a three-run hiccup in the fourth.

Bivens got himself in trouble with a lead single followed by a pair of walks. He looked like he was going to get himself out of a jam with a strikeout on the next at-bat, but a three-RBI single by Jordan George gave the Marauders a 3-1 lead. George had three singles in the win with another RBI in the sixth inning off reliever Brandon Lawson.

That was the extent of the damage off Bivens, who allowed five hits on the night and had seven strikeouts.

“Bivens was obviously cruising and then he couldn’t find his fastball in the fourth inning,” Johns said. “He became a one-pitch pitcher. All he was able to do was throw his breaking ball. The command wavered a little bit, but I thought he did a nice job finishing the fifth out.”

It was specifically walks which hurt Charlotte’s pitchers. Bivens, Lawson and Tyler Brashears issued six free passes in the game, and of those six walks, four eventually came around to score.

“That was the difference in the game,” Johns said. “Our guys right now are throwing too many off-speed pitches. We have to get ahead in counts.”

The Stone Crabs cut the lead to 4-2 in the seventh inning after Brett Sullivan hit a leadoff triple and later came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Boldt. Sullivan also had an RBI double in the seventh.

After a 3 for 5 performance in the opener, Jake Cronenworth reached base three more times in game two. He had a pair of singles, a walk and scored a run in the loss.

“That speaks volumes,” Johns said of Cronenworth, who played 25 games with the Stone Crabs last season.

“He’s played in this league. He knows what it’s about, and he’s not going to be overwhelmed by it. He’s swinging the bat well.”

With his glove, Cronenworth made an incredible diving stop on a ground ball in the hole between short and third base to rob Logan Hill of a single. Cronenworth, from the outfield grass, fired to first to catch Hill by a half step.

Brashears entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning, and kept the Marauders off the board until two outs in the ninth, when he surrendered the game’s final three runs. At one points, Brashears had four strikeouts in his first five outs recorded. He ended the night with five punch outs.

MARAUDERS 9, STONE CRABS 3

Bradenton;AB;R;H;BI;BB;SO;Avg.
Tolman 2B;4;1;2;0;0;1;.500
Tucker SS;5;1;2;2;0;2;.222
Craig 1B;3;2;1;0;2;0;.125
Hill LF;3;2;1;1;2;1;.429
Hayes 3B;4;1;1;2;1;1;.286
George DH;4;0;3;4;1;1;.571
Hughston CF;4;0;0;0;0;4;.250
Kelley C;4;1;1;0;0;2;.143
Reyes RF;4;1;1;0;0;1;.375

Charlotte;AB;R;H;BI;BB;SO;Avg.
Cronenworth SS;4;1;2;0;1;1;.556
Kelly 1B;5;1;0;0;0;2;.000
Sullivan C;5;1;2;1;0;1;.375
Padlo 3B;3;0;1;1;1;1;.143
Boldt RF;2;0;1;1;1;0;.333
Rodriguez DH;3;0;0;0;0;0;.000
Olmedo-Barrera LF;4;0;0;0;0;1;.250
Maris 2B;3;0;1;0;1;0;.333
Moreno RF;4;0;0;0;0;1;.000

Bradenton;000;301;203 – 9;12;0
Charlotte;100;001;100 – 3;8;0

2B: Craig (1), Hill (2); Padlo (1), Boldy (1), Olmedo-Barrera (1), Sullivan (1). 3B: Sullivan (1). RBI: George 4 (5), Tucker 2 (3), Hill (1), Hayes 2 (2); Padlo (1), Boldt (1), Sullivan (1). SF: Boldt. SAC: Tolman. LOB: Bradenton 6, Charlotte 9. RISP: Bradenton 5-for-13, Charlotte 1-for-7. SB: Hayes (2); Cronenworth (1), Padlo (1). CS: George (1), Hill (1); Maris (1).

PITCHING

Bradenton;IP;H;R;ER;BB;SO;HR;ERA
Vasquez;4.0;4;1;1;1;4;0;2.25
Helton (W, 1-0);2.2;4;2;2;2;1;0;6.75
Zamora (H,1);1.1;0;0;0;1;0;0;0.00
McGarry;1.0;0;0;0;0;1;0;0.00

Charlotte;IP;H;R;ER;BB;SO;HR;ERA
Bivens (L, 0-1);5.0;5;3;3;2;7;0;5.40
Lawson;1.2;4;3;3;2;1;0;16.20
Brashears;2.1;3;3;3;2;5;0;11.57

WP: Lawson, Brashears 2. HBP: Rodriguez (by Helton). Umpires: HP: Greg Roemer. 1B: JC Velez. Time: 3:06. Att: 3,315.

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