CLEARWATER, Fla. (June 6, 2019) - The Charlotte Stone Crabs rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth Thursday, but fell painfully short on the final play of the game in an 8-7 defat at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium.
Trailing 8-4 entering the ninth, Charlotte (31-29) infielder Zach Rutherford singled before Jake Palomaki reached on an error to put the first two men on base. After a Thomas Milone sacrifice fly made it 8-5, Jim Haley lined a single to center to score Palomaki and cut the deficit to 8-6.
The next batter was Carl Chester , who roped a single into center to move Haley to second. With two on and two outs, Russ Olive went to the opposite field for an RBI single to make it 8-7, moving the tying run to third. That's when Garrett Whitley bounced a hard grounder up the middle. With Chester racing home to tie the game, Dunedin (36-23) shortstop Kevin Vicuna made a diving stop, spinning and delivering a strong throw to first that retired Whitley by a tiny margin to end the game.
Despite the disappointing loss, the Stone Crabs muscled up for 13 hits Thursday and earned a split with the top team in the Florida State League.
Right-hander Alex Valverde led the pitching effort, working 2.2 scoreless innings of relief while fanning two and allowing just one hit.
Chester finished with three hits and Tampa Bay Rays rehabber Joey Wendle clubbed a solo home run in his first official at bat in over a month. Wendle reached base in three of his four plate appearances.
The Stone Crabs now travel to Jupiter to begin a three-game series with the Palm Beach Cardinals. Stephen Woods Jr. (3-1, 3.10) will make the start in the first game of the series at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. The series will be broadcast on the Cardinals Baseball Network.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.