Hulsizer Power, Smith Speed Lifts Crabs Past Frogs 4-3
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Niko Hulsizer homered and drove in the winning run Tuesday, and Michael Smith's speed did the rest in the Stone Crabs' 4-3 win over the Florida Fire Frogs at Charlotte Sports Park.
In a tie game in the bottom of the eighth, Smith and Garrett Whitley both walked with nobody out. The next batter was Hulsizer, who skied a deep fly ball to center. Florida (53-81, 28-40) center fielder Brett Langhorne made a running catch, with his momentum taking him to the center field fence. Smith raced around third to score from second and give Charlotte a 4-3 lead.
The Stone Crabs (81-52, 46-21) jumped on top quickly against Fire Frogs starter Freddy Tarnok. After Jake Palomaki singled to left, Wander Franco cranked a triple to the right center field wall to give Charlotte a 1-0 lead. The next batter was Ronaldo Hernandez, who lifted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Franco and make it 2-0.
The Crabs added a run in the fourth on Hulsizer's first home run in the Rays organization, an opposite field shot to right.
Stone Crabs starter Stephen Woods Jr. pitched extremely well over five scoreless innings. He allowed just two hits while fanning eight before Jack Labosky went two shutout frames.
With Charlotte up 3-0 in the top of eighth, the Fire Frogs rallied for three runs on four hits to tie the game against Stone Crabs reliever Alex Valverde (4-6). Valverde bounced back to work a scoreless ninth and notch a win.
The Stone Crabs will look to take the lead in the series at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Drew Strotman (0-2, 6.55) will start for Charlotte, against Matt Hartman (3-6, 4.06) of the Fire Frogs. Coverage begins at 12:45 p.m. on the Stone Crabs Baseball Network.
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