By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Stone Crabs lost an unlucky one in 13 innings Wednesday afternoon.
A game-tying, three-run home run for Angel Aguilar with two outs in the ninth inning sent the game to extra innings before the Tampa Yankees completed the comeback four innings later for a 7-6 win.
“We played well. We didn’t give them that win. They earned it,” Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said. “It’s not easy to come back on the road. You have to tip your hat to them.”
A one-out triple in the 13th for Nick Solak off Michael Velasquez (1-7) followed by a double from Gosuke Katoh proved to be the game-winning run.
Stephen Tarpley (3-0) worked four shutout innings of relief to earn the win for Tampa. Raynel Espinal put down the Stone Crabs in order in the bottom of the 13th to earn the save.
Dalton Moats came on in the ninth to record a save in a 3-1 game, but Anguilar drove a hanging slider into the left field berm.
“I’ll take Moats in the ninth inning with a three-run lead every time,” Johns said.
The home run in the ninth for Anguilar was his first of the season.
Just an inning earlier, Charlotte had Alex Sole on second base with nobody out, and failed to score the run. It was a missed opportunity Johns knew would haunt his team.
“You just felt like you had to get that run in and you had to get to a four-run lead no matter what,” Johns said.
By the time the game ended, it was easy to forget how well Charlotte starter Eduar Lopez pitched for the first seven innings. Lopez had his strongest outing, with runs in the bookend frames, and left with a 6-2 lead. He also made it through 21 outs without a walk or a strikeout.
Lopez’s outing likely wouldn’t have been as lengthy without strong defensive play behind him, specifically that of shortstop Alec Sole. Led by Sole, the Stone Crabs defense turned four double plays in four straight innings.
“Any starter going into the seventh inning — whether we’re winning or losing at the time — you’ll take that every night,” Johns said.
Ryan Boldt continued his recent tear. He picked up another two hits with a pair of RBI in the loss.
Brandon Lowe’s two-run double in the fifth inning gave Charlotte a 3-1 lead. The Stone Crabs put up a three-spot in the fifth and six innings.
The final game of this series between Charlotte and Tampa will conclude at 6:35 p.m. today with Tyler Brashears (3-3, 4.79 ERA) scheduled to pitch for the Stone Crabs against Dillon Tate (4-0, 3.00 ERA). Charlotte is on the road for a four-game series against Palm Beach beginning Friday evening before returning home Tuesday to start a run of eight straight games — four each against Dunedin and St. Lucie.