By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Home wins have been difficult to come by for the Charlotte Stone Crabs this season, but they walked away with a pair of victories Tuesday night.
Sweeping the Tampa Yankees in a doubleheader, the Stone Crabs held on for a 2-1 win in Game 2.
“I don’t know what it is. We play really well on the road. I don’t focus on that we don’t play very well at home,” manager Michael Johns said.
Starting pitcher Brock Burke had his best outing of the season while tossing six scoreless innings. He allowed just four hits, no walks and had six strikeouts while earning his first win with Charlotte.
“It’s the best feel he’s had for his curveball all year,” Johns said of Burke. “He probably could’ve gone seven, but he was outstanding.”
Rehabbing from an injury, Jaime Schultz made an appearance out of the bullpen. Schultz allowed one run, but recorded the save by finishing the final inning.
Brett Sullivan’s RBI single in the first inning quick put the Stone Crabs on the board. Thomas Milone’s run on a wild pitch proved to be crucial in the third inning, as it gave Charlotte a 2-0 lead at the time.
Ryan Boldt continued his hot streak, smashing his 20th double of the season in the win.
The Charlotte Stone Crabs went more than three weeks before finishing its game against the Tampa Yankees, but the result was worth the wait.
Completing a suspended game from June 29, the Stone Crabs defeated the Yankees 7-0 Tuesday evening.
Tuesday’s game – which was the first of a doubleheader – began with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning and Charlotte leading 2-0.
The Stone Crabs blew things wide open in the seventh inning when they plated five runs to take a 7-0 lead. Four of those runs came on one swing of the bat when Brett Sullivan hit a grand slam off Caleb Frare’s first pitch in relief.
Burch Smith took over for Travis Ott, who had been tossing a gem back on June 29 when the game was originally started.
Smith struggled in the sixth inning, after starting his day in the fifth, but managed to get through the eighth inning while keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard. Smith surrendered three hits and also issued five walks.
“After the first two innings, it looked like his command wasn’t as good as it had been,” Johns said. “It seemed like as the game progressed, he got better and better. That was huge for him to cover those innings.”
Brandon Lowe bailed Smith out to help extend his outing with a pair of great defensive plays in the eighth inning. The first was on a diving play on a loop to shallow center. The second baseman made a run-saving play a few batters later when he gun downed a would-be run-scorer at home plate.
Jonny Venters made his second appearance with the Stone Crabs in Game 1. He threw a perfect ninth inning while mostly sitting at 91 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball.
Three weeks ago, Ott tossed four scoreless innings before being interrupted by the weather. He faced the minimum 12 batters through those four innings and struck out five batters.
The only Yankee to reach base was Tito Polo, who singled twice, but both times he was thrown out on the base paths. Polo was recently promoted to double-A.