By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Back-to-back home runs changed the complexion of Sunday’s game between the Charlotte Stone Crabs and Fort Myers Miracle.
Ryan Boldt and Brandon Lowe hit solo bombs in consecutive at-bats in the fifth inning to put the Stone Crabs on top for good in a 6-1 victory in the rubber match of a three-game series at Charlotte Sports Park. It was Boldt’s second homer of the season and Lowe’s sixth.
“The back-to-back home runs when we couldn’t get anything going were obviously a very big lift,” Charlotte manager Michael Johns said. “Once we got that second one the momentum turned and we started to go on a roll.”
Lowe went 2-for-4 and reached base three times, finishing with two RBI. Boldt reached base five times, collecting two singles, getting hit by pitch and walking in addition to his homer, which was drilled over the boardwalk in right field.
“Ryan Boldt is really streaky,” Johns said. “He’ll go on tears where you can’t get him out and then he’ll have a little bit of a lull but that’s a guy who was playing college at this time last year so for him to be in the Florida State League and to be doing what he’s doing is pretty impressive.”
Charlotte starting pitcher Benton Moss came off the disabled list for his first appearance of the season, limiting the Miracle to an unearned run in the first inning. The right-hander struck out seven and surrendered five hits, throwing 70 pitches in the win.
“We kind of gift-wrapped them a run early with some pretty poor defense, but Benton Moss was outstanding,” Johns said. “We knew he’d give us a chance through five innings. All he could go was five today.”
Moss was hitting his spots throughout the afternoon and could’ve pitched deeper into the game had he not been returning from an injury suffered in spring training. Eduar Lopez followed Moss with three shutout innings before Brandon Lawson pitched a scoreless ninth for the Stone Crabs (23-25).
“(Moss) had all his pitches working. He pitched backwards, threw the changeup, the curveball was really sharp today and his fastball command was unbelievable,” Johns said. “Once he established the outside corner, he started pitching in and I thought he just did a really good job.”
Fort Myers starting pitcher David Fischer was cruising along until surrendering the homers to Boldt and Lowe. Fischer struck out four in a five-inning loss, giving up those two runs on four hits, two walks and two hit batters.
Williams Ramirez, Sam Clay and Alex Muren combined to pitch the rest of the way for the Miracle (25-26) and each surrendered at least one earned run. David Olmedo-Barrera drove in two via a sacrifice fly and a single while Jake Cronenworth and Lowe also had run-scoring singles for the Stone Crabs, who had nine hits and 18 base runners in the game.
Charlotte outfielder Jake Fraley wasn’t in the lineup after getting hit in the knee with a pitch in Saturday night’s game. No update was provided on his condition.
The Stone Crabs are off today before beginning an eight-game roadtrip on Tuesday with the first of four games in Tampa.