By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Games don’t get much wilder than Wednesday’s matchup between the Charlotte Stone Crabs and Dunedin Blue Jays.
Ten innings, 25 runs and 34 hits were needed before the Stone Crabs managed to walk off for a 13-12 victory.
“That’s one of the funnest games I’ve been involved in,” manager Michael Johns said. “I was just really impressed with how the guys stayed at it no matter what the score was.”
After the Blue Jays plated a run in the top of the 10th, an Angel Moreno RBI groundout allowed Brandon Lowe to get the game-winner with his 33rd double of the season to score Peter Maris from second base.
The Stone Crabs had been unable to erase any deficit larger than three runs through the first 99 games this season, but in game 100, Charlotte trailed 8-2 heading into the fourth inning.
“They could’ve packed it in when we were down six early,” Johns said. “I’m really proud of them.”
Trailing by six runs in entering the bottom of the fourth, Charlotte plated one in the bottom half, five in the fifth and another three in the sixth to take an 11-9 lead.
Making his debut with the Stone Crabs was shortstop Lucius Fox. The No. 13 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization went 2-for-4, collecting his first hit in a Charlotte uniform with a single in the fourth inning before driving in a game-tying RBI in the fifth. He later came around to score on an RBI by Thomas Milone, and also made a nice diving play in the field.
“He was really impressive,” Johns said of Fox. “It didn’t seem like he was intimidated by this league at all. He looked really comfortable.”
Alec Sole entered the game with just one RBI in 13 games with the Stone Crabs and quadrupled his total with a run-scoring triple and a two-run homer.
His three-bagger in the fifth was part of a five-run inning for the Stone Crabs to bring the game to an 8-8 tie. Diego Moreno and Brandon Lowe each had singles. Brett Sullivan and Ryan Boldt both doubled. Fox’s sacrifice fly took starting pitcher Tyler Brashears off the hook when it tied the game.
“What a third base he played tonight,” Johns said of Sole, who also made multiple stellar plays in the field.
Brashears couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning before being tagged for seven earned runs.
The right-hander surrendered seven hits and two walks to allow the Blue Jays’ damage.
Jonny Venters made another appearance out of the Stone Crabs’ bullpen. The former major leaguer allowed the tying run in the eighth inning to make it 11-11 at the time.
It was both the top and bottom of the lethal Dunedin lineup that did work in the loss. No. 8 hitter Jake Thomas and No. 9 D.J. Davis combined for five hits, three RBI and five runs scored.
As for the highly-touted top-half of the lineup, Bo Bichette (son of Dante Bichette), Cavan Biggio (son of Craig Biggio) and Valdimir Guerrero Jr. (son of Vladmir Guerrero), all lived up to their hypes by totaling six hits, six RBI and three runs.
The first eight runs for the Stone Crabs were charged to Dunedin starter Connor Fisk, who held Charlotte to three runs over the first four innings, and then couldn’t record an out in the fifth before being tagged for five more runs.