The ambiance of Charlotte Sports Park was one of pure nerves and, later, jubilee as the team and a select few fans celebrated not only a Stone Crabs victory, but a clinched playoff slot on Thursday night. Charlotte squeezed out one run against the Palm Beach Cardinals, their prime nemesis in the FSL South, and stellar pitching rendered the Cardinals scoreless.
The team’s sole run arrived in the bottom of the sixth off Palm Beach starter Ryan Sherriff. Richie Shaffer continued his RBI marathon by singling home Jake Hager, offering just enough run support to the pitching staff to render a win. Sherriff would take the loss (4-4).
Felipe Rivero took the mound for four and two-thirds innings, departing in the fifth, reportedly, with cramps. His bullpen easily held the game for him, however. Shay Crawford worked two and a third hitless innings and would even out his record at 3-3 with the win. Andrew Bellatti and Nate Garcia combined thereafter for two innings, the only baserunner coming from a walk by the former.
The team regrouped in right field soon after to hear out the final portion of the Jupiter Hammerheads and St. Lucie Mets game broadcasted over the P.A.: the Mets needed to lose in order for the Stone Crabs to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. The Hammerheads delivered with a big 12-3 victory, and immediately an onslaught of champagne was rolled out from the clubhouse. The outfield erupted in raucous cheering and multiple fountains of champagne amid the claps of the bystanders who opted to stay behind and listen to the radio feed.
The Stone Crabs will play game one of the playoffs at home on Tuesday, September 3, with tickets going on sale tomorrow morning at nine. They will then head to Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers to take on the Miracle for games two and, if needed, three.
For tomorrow, the Stone Crabs will eye a second win against Palm Beach in a 6:30 game, with Dylan Floro taking the mound.
- Taylor Motter (RF): 1 for 4
- Jake Hager (SS): 0 for 3 with a run scored
- Willie Argo (CF): 1 for 3 with a walk and a double
- Richie Shaffer (3B): 2 for 4 with an RBI
- Alejandro Segovia (DH): 0 for 3
- Jeff Malm (1B): 0 for 3
- Hector Guevara (2B): 1 for 3
- Jake DePew (C): 0 for 3
- Jonathan Quinonez (LF): 0 for 3
- Felipe Rivero: no runs off 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts in 4.2 innings
- Shay Crawford (W, 3-3): 2.1 scoreless, hitless innings with 2 walks and a strikeout
- Andrew Bellatti: a hit in 1 scoreless inning
- Nate Garcia (S, 11). 1 perfect inning