STONE CRABS: Cronenworth extends hit streak, Lopez shines, Smith rehabs

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

PORT CHARLOTTE — Each of the last 20 games for Jake Cronenworth have had one thing in common.

The Charlotte shortstop extended his hit streak to 20 games – dating to last season – in the Stone Crabs’ 4-1 win over the Dunedin Blue Jays Wednesday night.

“I feel comfortable at the plate. I didn’t even know that was going on,” Cronenworth said of his hit streak. “I think just coming to the park every day, and having good, quality at-bats no matter what the situations is, helps a lot.”

Maybe just as impressive, in 16 of those 20 games, Cronenworth has reached base at least two times. He did so Wednesday with a triple, single and a walk.

“He’s on fire,” Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said. “Every time he comes up to the plate you think he’s going to do something special.”

Cronenworth’s single in the sixth inning was part of a four-run frame for the Stone Crabs (8-11). They combined three hits, two walks and two errors to end the night of pitcher T. J. Zeuch, the No. 7 prospect in the Blue Jays organization.

Kevin Padlo drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 1-1, and then Ryan Boldt’s sacrifice bunt gave the Stone Crabs the lead for good.

“I give our offense credit. They seem to figure out starters after the second or third inning,” Johns said. “We caught a couple of breaks there, and I was glad to see it. Our offense is clicking right now.”

Charlotte got a great outing from starting pitcher Eduar Lopez. The right-hander allowed just one unearned run in six innings of work, while striking out four.

“Lopez kept the ball down against a really good hitting team,” Johns said. “

Lopez, and relievers Brandon Lawson and Bryan Bonnell combined for 10 strikeouts of Dunedin (10-10) hitters. Bonnell picked up his second save of the season.

Rehabbing for the second night in a row with the Stone Crabs was Tampa Bay Rays’ outfielder Mallex Smith.

Smith, who is recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered on April 13 against the New York Yankees, says he feels 100 percent after playing all nine innings Wednesday night. He went 1-for-4 at the plate and was caught stealing once.

Despite being a proficient bunter, he had five failed bunt attempts, including one back to the pitcher with a runner on third, who was thrown out at the plate. He also caught a pair of fly balls in left field.

“The caught stealing doesn’t really bother me, but the bunting does,” Smith said. “That’s something I’ll have to work on. I just have to see better pitches and just focus a little harder.”
The 23-year-old says there’s still no plan for a return to the Rays, and it’s a wait-and-see situation.

Charlotte also helped its pitchers with some solid defense. The Stone Crabs turned three double plays, all started by Cronenworth.

 

STONE CRABS 4, BLUE JAYS 1

Dunedin;AB;R;H;BI;BB;SO;Avg.
Guillotte RF;3;0;1;1;0;0;.300

Biggio 2B;1;0;0;0;3;1;.279
Pentecost DH;3;0;1;0;1;0;.300
Jansen C;4;0;0;0;0;0;.387
Kelly 1B;4;0;1;0;0;1;.280
Thomas CF;4;0;0;0;0;1;.278
Dean 3B;4;0;1;0;0;2;.254
Vicuna SS;3;1;2;0;0;1;.300
Davis LF;3;0;1;0;0;2;.222

Charlotte;AB;R;H;BI;BB;SO;Avg.

Cronenworth SS;3;1;2;0;1;0;.406

Smith LF;4;0;1;0;0;0;.286
Sullivan DH;4;1;0;0;0;0;.265
Padlo 3B;3;1;0;1;1;1;.271
Lowe 2B;3;0;1;1;1;1;.357
Boldt CF;3;0;0;1;1;1;.286
Kelly 1B;3;0;0;0;1;1;.250
Olmedo-Barrera RF;3;0;0;0;0;1;.254
Rodriguez C;3;1;2;0;0;1;.204

Dunedin;000;010;000 – 1;7;2

Charlotte;000;004;00x – 4;6;1

3B: Rodriguez (1), Cronenworth (3). RBI: Guillotte (11); Padlo (14), Lowe (7), Boldt (15). SF: Guillotte. SAC: Boldt. SB: Lowe (2). CS: Biggio; Smith. LOB: Dunedin 6; Charlotte 6. RISP: Dunedin 0-for-5, Charlotte 1-for-7. E: Biggio (4, fielding), Kelly (6, missed catch); Padlo (5, throw).

PITCHING

Dunedin;IP;H;R;ER;BB;SO;HR;ERA

Zeuch (L, 1-1);5.2;5;4;1;3;2;0;1.62
Cook;1.1;1;0;0;0;2;0;0.00
Cardona;1.0;0;0;0;1;2;0;2.57

Charlotte;IP;H;R;ER;BB;SO;HR;ERA
Lopez(W, 1-2);6.0;6;1;0;4;4;0;3.79
Lawson (H, 2);2.0;1;0;0;0;3;0;6.97
Bonnell (S, 2);1.0;0;0;0;0;3;0;3.38

Umpires: HP: Brandon Mooney . 1B: Derek Thomas. Time: 2:24. Att: 787.

 

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