By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Lucius Fox delivered his first walk-off hit as a member of the Charlotte Stone Crabs Monday night in a 1-0 win over the St. Lucie Mets.
It was the second walk-off of the day for the Stone Crabs as they also beat the Mets in extra innings in Game 1 of the doubleheader.
“It’s a crazy game, isn’t it? I’ve never seen that before,” manager Michael Johns said of two walk-offs in one day. “Those were two really good games. I’m proud of the guys. They could’ve packed it in after the first win, but they didn’t.”
Fox might not get his opportunity if not for the incredible hustle of Thomas Milone to start the eighth inning.
Milone hit what likely is a single 95 percent of the time, but rather than settle, Milone raced to second base for a leadoff double. The Stone Crabs eventually loaded the bases for Fox, who came up big in the clutch.
“Tommy Milone with the hustle-double there was awesome,” Johns said. “It turned the whole game around. It lit the crowd on fire and the dugout got excited.”
The Stone Crabs were able to wait so long for run support thanks to a gem from starting pitcher Eduar Lopez. The right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings while holding the Mets to just three hits. He also struck out seven and walked none.
“That’s one of his best outings,” Johns said. “He pitched inside with his fastball and threw his off-speed stuff for strikes. He cruised through seven innings.”
A scary moment happened in the second inning when, after hitting a two-out single, Angel Moreno stole second base and was struck in the face by the ball thrown by catcher Anthony Dimino. Moreno was lifted from the game and taken away in an ambulance.
“He was just a little light-headed and seeing black a little bit,” Johns said. “Any time there is a question mark we have to get him out of there.”
These two teams will finish the four-game series today at 6:35 p.m. Left-hander Travis Ott (4-1, 3.04 ERA) is expected to pitch for the Stone Crabs against Mets’ starter Michael Gibbons (0-2, 7.59)
An error, sacrifice bunt and two intentional walks in the 10th inning set up a chance for Charlotte Stone Crabs catcher Brett Sullivan to play walk-off hero in Game 1.
Sullivan delivered with a game-winning base knock on the first pitch he saw to give the Stone Crabs a 5-4 victory.
Sullivan made things interesting to begin with in the eighth inning when he hit a game-tying two-run home run to knot the game at 4-4.
The Stone Crabs took advantage of St. Lucie mistakes as four of the five runs they scored were unearned, with Kevin Padlo and Peter Maris both scoring runs after reaching base on an error.
Mets outfielder Tim Tebow went 0-for-4 in the win. He reached base on an error in the fourth inning and drove in a run on the play to give St. Lucie a 3-1 lead at the time.
Tampa Bay Rays infielder Daniel Robertson started in the continuation of Game 1 at shortstop, who hit a solo home run in his first at-bat of the night. It was his fourth game with the Stone Crabs this week as he works his way back from a neck injury.
Robertson was also hit by a pitch in the hand during last game, which based on results this game, was not an issue.
Burch Smith did not continue after pitching a solid four innings on Sunday. He allowed just one run in the first inning. Michael Santos also tossed four innings in relief, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks before getting the ball to Fernando Baez for a scoreless ninth and tenth.