By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Three runs in the first inning were all the Charlotte Stone Crabs needed Thursday night to defeat the Fort Myers Miracle 3-2 at Charlotte Sports Park.
Brandon Lowe and Dalton Kelly each had RBI doubles in the first inning, while Jake Cronenworth had a run-scoring single for all of Charlotte’s scoring.
Kelly’s double made up for a blunder in the top of the first inning in which he allowed a foul ball by Bradley Strong to fall between him and catcher David Rodriguez. Strong later singled and eventually scored after that foul ball.
That run came off Tampa Bay Rays’ No. 3 prospect Jose De Leon, who tossed 3.1 innings, allowing a pair of runs on five hits with seven strikeouts.
Charlotte totaled 10 hits on the night, but couldn’t push across a run after the opening frame. One of those 10 hits was by another rehabbing player, Rays shortstop Matt Duffy, who went 1-for-3 with a bloop single.
Following De Leon’s outing, Eduar Lopez tossed 3.2 scoreless innings. Lopez surrendered just three hits in that span. Drew Smith pitched the final two innings to earn his second save of the season.
Lowe and Kelly each had multi-hit games, and eight of the 10 Stone Crabs to bat had at least one base hit.
After a dismal 0-7 start, the Stone Crabs have gone 17-10. They moved to .500 on the year for the second time (previously 14-14).
They’ll look to get over the .500 mark for the first time all season today in the second game of the three-game series. Lopez was initially slated to start that game.