By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Chances were there for the Charlotte Stone Crabs Saturday night, but an inability to capitalize plagued them in a 6-3 loss to the Clearwater Threshers at Charlotte Sports Park.
The Threshers trailed 3-2 entering the seventh innings, but scored four unanswered runs against the Charlotte bullpen to even the three-game series. The teams conclude the set at 12:35 p.m. today.
“We didn’t execute early,” manager Michael Johns said. “We had opportunities to separate early, but we didn’t take advantage of it. That’s what it boils down to. We can’t expect our bullpen to throw up zeroes every night. They’re not perfect.”
On paper, a two-run, lead-taking inning for the Stone Crabs in the sixth looks good, but it could have caused more damage if they had taken advantage.
“We had first and third with one out right there, and you don’t always feel good with a one-run lead in the sixth inning,” Johns said. “Maybe feel a little better with a two-run lead.”
Nate Lowe singled home Lucius Fox and Michael Brosseau in the sixth to give the Stone Crabs the lead. But could get no more.
With a pair of singles in the loss, Tommy Milone now has multi-hit games in five of his last 10 contests, on the way to raising his season average to .266.
Brandon Lawson pitched well enough to win the game, but finished the night with a no decision after the bullpen blew the 3-2 lead. Lawson tossed six innings, allowed five hits and two runs with no walks and five strikeouts.
“He pitched really well,” Johns said. “He had some tough luck on those two runs. He did an outstanding job, and we couldn’t have asked for more out of him.”
The Stone Crabs’ lead didn’t last long after Lawson’s departure. Fernando Baez took over in the seventh inning and immediately gave up a pair of runs to give the Threshers a 4-3 advantage.
Baez was credited with the loss. Reece Karalus had a blown save on the way to surrendering two runs in 1.2 innings while giving up five hits.
Brock Burke will take the mound for Charlotte today against Harold Arauz in the rubber match. After an off-day on Monday, the Stone Crabs host Tim Tebow and the St. Lucie Mets for the first of a three-game series at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday.