For his second consecutive outing, RHP Josh DeGraaf hurled seven shutout quality innings, leading the Blue Jays to the 6-4 victory over the Charlotte Stone Crabs at Florida Exchange Stadium on Saturday night.
DeGraaf's performance was almost identical to his last start, throwing seven scoreless innings, surrendering four hits and striking out six Stone Crabs hitters. At one point, DeGraaf retired 11 straight hitters while throwing seven innings for the third time this season.
Dunedin scratched out a run in the bottom of the second courtesy of the RBI single off the bat of J.C. Cardenas. In the very next inning, the Blue Jays sent seven men to the plate, going on to score four runs. With one out, Vladimir Guerrerro Jr. stepped forward and smacked a homerun over the wall in left to record his first homerun in his Dunedin Blue Jays tenure. Guerrerro Jr. finished the night 2-4 and has recorded four hits in the series.
After Juan Kelly and Michael De La Cruz singled, Connor Panas launched a three run homerun over the wall in right to extend the Dunedin lead to 5-0. Panas is now 10 for 30 with two homeruns, 11 RBI and six runs scored in his last eight games.
Max Pentecost drove in a run with an RBI groundout in the bottom of the fourth to extend the Dunedin lead to 6-0. RHP Geno Encina was brought out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth. Nathaniel Lowe, and Jonah Heim both cracked singles to put two runners on. Thomas Milone, who had three hits on the night, ripped a single to center allowing Lowe to motor home and score to cut into the Dunedin lead at 6-1.
Things got tense for Dunedin and their fans in the top of the ninth as the Stone Crabs pushed three runs across off of the pitching combination of RHP Philip Walby and LHP Daniel Lietz. Walby retired both Ryan Boldt and Kevin Padlo to start the frame, but walked Peter Maris to keep the ballgame alive. David Olmedo-Barrera laced a double into the alley-way in left center to put runners at second and third. Nathaniel Lowe then walked to load the bases for Jonah Heim. Two pitched later, Walby uncorked a wild pitch with Heim at the dish to allow Maris to score from third and put runners at second and third.
Heim was issued a free pass to load the bases and that spelled the end of the night for Walby. Southpaw Daniel Lietz was called out of the bullpen and allowed an RBI single to Milone with Olmedo-Barrera scoring from to cut the Dunedin lead in half to 6-3. Two pitches later, Michael De La Cruz sailed a throw into shallow left on a pickoff attempt at third that allowed Lowe to score from third slashing the Dunedin lead to 6-4 and put the tying run 180 feet away at second.
Lucious Fox walked to load the bases, but Lietz settled down and induced a game ending groundball out to Shortstop Bo Bichette to end the ballgame, securing the 6-4 win while sending the Blue Jays to their eighth win in their last nine contests.
Bichette was the lone hitter in the Dunedin starting lineup not to record a hit. Meanwhile, the combination of Max Pentecost, Vladimir Guerrerro Jr., and Juan Kelly finished the night five for 12 with a homerun, three runs batted in, and three runs scored.
The Blue Jays are now 19-3 at their home ballpark in the second half, and have won 11 of their last 12 at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Dunedin will be seeking the series win against the Stone Crabs tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. RHP Conor Fisk (6-9, 4.15) will make the start for the Blue Jays, while RHP Burch Smith (1-0, 1.90) will toss for Charlotte.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.