Cardinals clip Crabs in 6-5 thriller

Johnson homers in see-saw battle

Kaleo Johnson delivered a two-run home run in the eighth inning Saturday.

By John Vittas / Charlotte Stone Crabs | August 3, 2019 9:45 PM

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (August 3, 2019) - Kaleo Johnson delivered a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday, but the Palm Beach Cardinals rallied to beat the Charlotte Stone Crabs 6-5 at Charlotte Sports Park.


With the game tied 3-3 entering the bottom of the eighth, Moises Gomez singled with one out. The next batter was Johnson, who cranked a two-run homer out to left to give the Stone Crabs a 5-3 lead.


Still leading by that margin in the top of the ninth, Charlotte (66-43, 31-12) reliever Alex Valverde (3-5) allowed back-to-back singles to Scott Hurst and Dennis Ortega. That brought up Nick Dunn, who pulled a three-run homer to right to give Palm Beach the decisive 6-5 lead.


Cardinals lefty Grant Dayton (3-1) went three innings in relief to get the win. He struck out three and stranded the tying run at second in the ninth to seal the Palm Beach (49-59, 14-30) win.


The Cardinals' lead in the ninth was their first of the game after the Stone Crabs jumped in front early. In the bottom of the first, Jake Palomaki lined a single to right to start the inning. Wander Franco followed with an RBI triple to the wall in right center to make it 1-0 Charlotte. The next batter was Ronaldo Hernandez , who doubled to the wall in left to bring the margin to 2-0.


After the Cardinals tied it 2-2, Hernandez lined an RBI single to left in the fifth to give Charlotte a 3-2 lead. Palm Beach leveled things in the eighth on a Juan Yepez RBI single. Yepez finished 4-for-4 with two RBI.


Saturday marked the return of Drew Strotman , who made his return from June 2018 Tommy John surgery. Strotman went three innings for Charlotte, allowing one run on three hits in his High-A debut. Right-hander Stephen Woods Jr. allowed one earned run over 4.1 innings of relief.


The Stone Crabs will go for the series win over Palm Beach at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Jose Alvarado will rehab for Charlotte in front of usual starter Tommy Romero (9-3, 1.87). Griffin Roberts (0-6, 6.27) makes the start for Cardinals. Coverage of the game begins at 12:15 p.m. on the Stone Crabs Baseball Network.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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