By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — There are gems and then there are what Eduar Lopez did Monday night.
The Charlotte Stone Crabs pitcher tossed eight scoreless innings on the way to a 5-0 win over the Jupiter Hammerheads.
“He was pretty impressive,” manager Michael Johns said. “I don’t think we’ve sent a starter out there for the eighth inning all season. That right in itself (is big).”
Lopez was nearly untouchable through the first seven innings. He allowed just one hit after 21 outs. The right-hander gave up a pair of singles in the eighth to bring him to three hits surrendered on the night.
The quality start for Lopez was his fourth consecutive, as he’s surrendered just four total runs in his last 28 innings pitched. He also racked up his 400th career inning with tonight’s game.
Of the 24 outs he recorded, 15 came on the ground.
“That shows the you kind of sink he had on his fastball,” Johns said. “I think he’s just trusting his stuff right now. He’s pitching to contact and he’s not trying to strike everyone out.”
Lopez received plenty of run support from his teammates.
The Stone Crabs added three insurance runs in the eighth inning on a three-run double from Nate Lowe to bring the score to its final 5-0.
Charlotte grabbed an early lead with a run in the first thanks to a leadoff walk by Lucius Fox and an RBI double for David Olmedo-Barrera, who batted third for the second consecutive night – which is noteworthy due to the absence of Brandon Lowe and Brett Sullivan.
“He’s seeing the ball about as good as anybody right now,” Johns said of Olmedo-Barrera. “He’s absolutely on fire. He has a really good understanding of the strike zone. A lot of guys need to step up right now. Obviously we’ve lost a lot of offensive production, and he’s one of the guys we’ll be relying on down the stretch.”
Fox scored another run on an Olmedo-Barrera single in the fifth inning to make it 2-0. Nate Lowe also had three hits in the win.