[Via email from Grant McAuley, Broadcaster of the Charlotte Stone Crabs.]
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Charlotte Stone Crabs will be happy to depart from a windy Joker Marchant Stadium, knowing they are not scheduled to return here in the regular season.
In what must have felt like Wrigley Field South, the Flying Tigers scored four runs against Charlotte starter Joe Cruz (1-3) to grab a 3-out-of-4 series win over the Stone Crabs by a 4-2 final score on Thursday.
Charlotte third baseman Matt Sweeney drilled a line-shot two-run homer that made a hasty departure over the right field wall to put his team on the board in the fourth inning.
When Sweeney came up again with a runner on base in the eighth, he fell victim to the stiff winds blowing in from right. The lefty slugger belted a majestic drive that was swatted down by the winds and landed in the glove of Lakeland right fielder Kody Kaiser on the warning track.
Brayan Villarreal (4-3) was the recipient of the four runs and pitched the necessary five innings to qualify for the win. He allowed the two runs on six hits, both coming on Sweeney's homer, walked three and struck out five.
Throughout the series both sides were often left scraping for hits with runners on base. Charlotte stranded nine men on the night in taking their third consecutive defeat at the hands of Lakeland.
Cruz (1-3) lasted five innings and surrendered four earned runs on six hits and a pair of walks in taking the loss for Charlotte. The righty struck out four men on the night.
Stone Crabs catcher Stephen Vogt went 2-for-4 with a triple to extend his season-high hitting streak to 11-games. Vogt is batting .429 during that stretch.
Miguel Mejia threw a scoreless ninth inning to notch his first save of the year.
The three-game losing streak is the longest for the Stone Crabs (17-15) this season, and they now trail the front-running Bradenton Marauders by 1 1/2 games in the Florida State League South Division race.
Charlotte begins a three game series against the Palm Beach Cardinals with a pseudo-double-header on Friday. The first contest is a continuation of the April 11 rain-suspended game. Left-hander Frank De Los Santos (4-1) will resume his starting role in that contest, while righty Scott McGregor goes for Palm Beach. In the second contest, lefty Mike Jarman (1-1) will battled right-hander Mark Diapoules. First pitch of Game 1 is set for 5:05 p.m.