By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — A day game after a night game can disrupt the schedule of a baseball player, but it certainly helps when you finished a 2-1 win in two hours and change.
The Charlotte Stone Crabs defeated the Bradenton Marauders in a tidy two hours, four minutes Saturday night to set up a rubber match at 12:35 p.m. today.
“Tomorrow is a quick turn around, so anytime you can get in bed earlier than you’re normally used to – because tomorrow throws a kink in our usual schedule – it’s awesome,” manager Michael Johns said.
Pitchers on both sides helped the quick game. The teams combined for just 13 hits.
Stone Crabs starter Michael Santos exceeded expectations in his first start of the season. Having pitched six games out of the bullpen, Santos surprisingly threw six innings of one-run baseball while issuing just one walk and striking out a pair.
“We were hoping to get five out of him,” Johns said of Santos, whose one run allowed was unearned. “He was pitching so well, he almost got seven. He was outstanding.”
After allowing the first-inning run, Santos scattered just three hits over the next five frames. Reliever Brandon Lawson pitch three shutout innings to record the save.
Charlotte answered right back in its of the first, as Brandon Lowe’s double was followed by a two-bagger for Brett Sullivan. The second double was a looper that fell in no-man’s land down the leftfield line.
“We caught a break,” Johns said. “I thought the wind was going to push that one foul.”
The Stone Crabs used small ball to get what turned out to be the game-winner in the fourth inning. With David Olmedo-Barrera on third base, Dalton Kelly’s sacrifice bunt gave Charlotte a 2-1 lead.
With the win, the Stone Crabs improved to 3-5 on the season in one-run games, which was something that pleased Johnsh.
“We needed as a team to win a 2-1 game. We needed it,” Johns said. “Obviously we’d like to win 10-0, but just to prove to the team we can win 2-1 games I think is monumental.”
Jake Cronenworth continued his hit streak in the win, improving to 23 straight games with a single in the third inning. Cronenworth also committed two errors in the field, which made Saturday’s win the first time all season Charlotte won with multiple errors in a game (previously 0-7).
The Stone Crabs will have their work cut out for them this afternoon with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ No. 3 prospect Mitch Keller scheduled to pitch. Charlotte will send out Michael Velasquez.