The Game: The Charlotte Stone Crabs picked up their fifth win in a row in dramatic fashion by overcoming an eight run deficit to defeat the Lakeland Flying Tigers 12-11 on Saturday night at Joker Marchant Stadium. Both teams combined to score 23 runs off 26 hits and Michael Bertram of Lakeland hit for the cycle in the slugfest.
The Stone Crabs scored first by posting a run in the first inning. Shawn O’Malley was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out by Omar Luna. Henry Wrigley drove him home with a ground rule double that gave the Stone Crabs a 1-0 lead.
Lakeland battled back to take the lead in the bottom of the second inning. The inning got started by two bad pitches by Charlotte starter Jake McGee. Devin Thomas struck out but was able to get aboard due to a wild pitch. Thomas then advanced to second on a passed ball. Michael Bertram followed with a single to right to give the Flying Tigers runners on the corners. Audy Ciriaco drove home Thomas with a single to short and then Chris White delivered a ground ball to score Bertram and give Lakeland the lead 2-1.
Lakeland added another run in the third inning. Joshua Workman led off the inning with a walk and then advanced to second on a ground out by Joseph Tucker. Jordan Newton followed with an RBI single to left that scored Workman. Lakeland increased their lead to 3-1.
Both clubs exchanged runs in the fourth inning. First in was the Stone Crabs in with an RBI single by Matt Hall to score Shawn Williams in the top of the inning. Then it was Michael Bertram with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning to maintain the Lakeland lead 4-2.
Charlotte tried to close the gap in the top of the fifth off a solo home run by Shawn O’Malley to pull within one run of Lakeland. But the Flying Tiger thought otherwise, striking for five runs in the bottom of the frame. The inning was supported by an two run single by Jordan Newton to score Maiko Loyola and Carlos Guillen, followed by back to back RBI triples by Devin Thomas and Michael Bertram, then an RBI double by Jeremy Laster. The Flying Tigers now held a 9-3 lead.
The Flying Tigers added two more runs in the seventh to further distance themselves. The inning was led off by a single by Devin Thomas. Michael Bertram then followed with a double to complete the cycle and give Lakeland runners at second and third. Audy Ciriaco drove in a run with a grounder to third to score Thomas. Chris White drove home the second run of the inning with a ground ball to first, giving Lakeland an 11-3 lead.
But it all changed in a record breaking eighth inning by the Stone Crabs. The Stone Crabs sent a record thirteen men to the plate to score a record nine runs in the inning to recover from the eight run deficit. Reid Fronk started things off by drawing a walk. Ryan Royster cleared the bases with a two run homer to right. Shawn Williams then reached on a fielding error by Michael Bertram allowing Williams to advance to second. Back to back doubles by Mike McCormick and John Matulia adds two more runs to the tally. Matt Hall reaches base and drives in a run on an error by Audy Ciriaco. Reid Fronk comes to the plate for the second time in the inning and delivers an RBI single to score Hall. Next it was Henry Wrigley with a two run double to score O’Malley and Fronk. Ryan Royster capped of the scoring with an RBI single to center scoring Wrigley. The Stone Crabs now held the lead 12-11. The bullpen closed the door and the Stone Crabs held on to win making the comeback the largest in team history.
Jake McGee made his debut with Charlotte by pitching 2 2/3 innings and surrendering 3 runs on 3 hits while striking out 3 and walking 2. Jose Mejias pitched 2 innings allowing 6 runs on 6 hits while striking out and walking 1. Kevin Boggan earned the win allowing 2 unearned runs on 2 hits while walking 2 in 2 1/3 innings. Richard De Los Santos also made his Stone Crabs debut, recording a save by pitching 2 shutout innings only allowing 2 hits while striking out 2 and walking 1. Scott Green was the losing pitcher for Lakeland.
What Went Right: The Offense; 12 runs off 13 hits while rallying from an 8 run deficit, of the 13 hits 9 of them were extra base hits. Henry Wrigley; 3 for 5 with 3 doubles, 3 RBI’s and a run scored.
What Went Wrong: Omar Luna; only Stone Crabs to go hitless on the night, 0-5 with a K. Jose Mejias; continues to struggle, allowed 6 runs on 6 hits in 2 innings.
A Look Ahead: The Stone Crabs and Flying Tigers face off for game two of the four game series on Sunday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium. Darin Downs (9-4) will face off against Matt Hoffman (2-5).