Stone Crabs' Romero spins two-hitter

Rays right-hander fans nine in second game of doubleheader

Tommy Romero stands atop the Florida State League with a 1.77 ERA this season. (Joshua Tjiong/

By Jordan Wolf / | July 23, 2019 1:16 AM

The nightcap of Monday's doubleheader marked the Class A Advanced Stone Crabs' fifth game in the past three days, and over that time, they burned through 11 pitchers. So when Tommy Romero took the mound at the start of Game 2 against Jupiter, his mission was simple.

"I kind of knew going in that we were shorter than what we expected going into it," he said. "So kind of in the back of my head, I was like, 'I need to really do my job.'"

And boy, did he.

Romero (9-2) dealt a seven-inning two-hitter in Charlotte's 1-0 win at Charlotte Sports Park. He struck out nine -- one short of his career high -- and walked one in his longest start of the season.

Gameday box score

Nine punchouts were also a stark increase from his previous start against St. Lucie six days ago, when he struck out just one batter while allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander said the key was better control of the breaking balls, along with something less under his control.

"It was just more of a feel thing," he said. "That last game I had was 10 o'clock in the morning, so I wasn't feeling the best, waking up right away. Definitely I think either way I didn't really have my breaking pitches working for me that other start, but today, I just feel like everything clicked for me."

Romero faced the minimum despite allowing two hits and a walk. Harrison Dinicola was thrown out trying to stretch the Hammerheads' first hit into a double, and Charlotte catcher Joey Roach threw out Micah Brown after his walk in the third and Jhonny Santos after a single in the fifth during steal attempts.

The 2017 15th-round pick took momentum into the final frame, but the Stone Crabs only had one run on the board. The lack of a cushion didn't make him nervous -- it actually had the opposite result.

"The last inning I knew I was facing the top of the lineup, so kind of in my head I was like, 'I really need to do my part right now,'" Romero said. "But it kind of pushes me to do better, knowing that I only have a one-run lead, so it really makes me want to make all my pitches and just get outs to keep the team winning."

The Eastern Florida State product closed the Hammerheads out 1-2-3, fanning Marlins No. 19 prospect Jerar Encarnacion to end the game for his second career complete game.

"It was really cool to finish the game and go up to my catcher and give him a hug after the game, because he called a great game and everything," Romero said. "It's my first time doing a complete game this year, so it was pretty cool."

2019 MiLB include

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound hurler sports a 1.77 ERA through 18 outings -- including 14 starts this season, the best clip of anyone in the Florida State League. His WHIP sits at 1.06, five points behind leader Tarik Skubal of Lakeland. Detroit's No. 17 prospect has since been promoted to Double-A Erie.'s No. 1 overall prospect Wander Franco singled, walked twice, drove in a run and scored once in the nightcap after collecting a hit, an RBI and a run in the opening 6-3 loss to Jupiter. JJ Bleday, drafted by the Marlins at No. 5 overall in June, belted his first professional homer in that game for the Hammerheads.

Jordan Wolf is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @byjordanwolf. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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