Walking the Plank
BRADENTON, FL (April 6, 2014) - Any lingering positive feelings from Thursday night's comeback victory to open the season quickly dissipated for the Stone Crabs over the weekend. After Friday night's 9-1 defeat at home in which the Marauders amassed 18 hits, it didn't get much better for the boys in blue in Bradenton. On Sunday afternoon, the Stone Crabs pulled within two on Tyler Goeddel's two-run triple in the fifth inning, only to watch the Marauders tack on six more runs in the seventh and eighth to win it 11-3.
For the second straight game, Bradenton used the longball to widen the gap early. After a pair of solo home runs Saturday night proved to be the difference in a 4-2 victory, they capitalized on a rare lapse in control from Charlotte starter Austin Pruitt in the first inning. Two walks and a one out single by Jin De Jhang loaded the bases for Jonathan Schwind, who cranked a grand slam over the left field wall to quickly make it 4-0.
The early signs seemed somewhat positive for the Stone Crabs offense after first baseman Patrick Leonard re-energized the group with a long solo home run to left off Orlando Castro in the second. When left fielder Marty Gantt reached on a throwing error at third base by Walker Gourley, Kes Carter could not continue the inning and struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to give Castro four strikeouts in the first two frames.
Pruitt departed after just three innings of work despite retiring the last four hitters he faced on groundballs. After Leonard's home run cut the deficit to 4-1, Bradenton got a run in the second after a leadoff walk to Raul Fortunato. Ashley Ponce's groundout to first moved him to second, and he soon scored on Jeff Roy's RBI single as the Marauders regained a four run lead.
With runners at first and second and one out in the Stone Crabs fifth, Goeddel made it 5-3 with a two run triple to left center. Standing at third base with a chance to make it a one run game, he never got a chance to score after Castro closed out his strong afternoon by retiring Andrew Toles and Tommy Coyle to send it to the sixth.
After reliever Nicholas Sawyer walked the bases loaded in the seventh, Jared Sandberg summoned the lefty Kevin Brandt to pitch out of the jam. He picked up the first out by getting Jhang to fly out to shallow left, but Max Moroff's two run double made it 7-3. The Marauders piled on four more runs in the eighth, highlighted by a Jacob Stallings RBI single and a long two run home run by Jhang onto the boardwalk beyond the right field wall.
Notes: In the final three games of the series, Charlotte was outscored 24-6 and outhit 37-13...Marcus Jensen, Thursday night's winning pitcher, fired three hitless innings of relief for the Stone Crabs and allowed just two hits in five innings during the series...Bradenton's starters in the final three games each went five innings, totaling just three runs on six hits allowed...Castro finished with seven of Bradenton's 12 strikeouts...Leonard's home run was the first of the season for the Stone Crabs, while Bradenton hit five in the opening series.
The Stone Crabs will enjoy their off day on Monday before returning on Tuesday night at 7:05 PM in Fort Myers. In a rematch of last year's exciting opening round playoff series, the division rivals will play a three game series before the Stone Crabs return home for the start of a six game homestand on Friday, April 11 against the Palm Beach Cardinals. You can follow all the action by listening live on the Stone Crabs website by visiting www.stonecrabsbaseball.com. Or if you're in the Port Charlotte area, tune into WVIJ 91.7 FM on your radio dial. The Stone Crabs Pregame Show begins Tuesday night at 6:45 on the Stone Crabs Radio Network.
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