There were few good looks for Charlotte batters on Monday night against Bradenton righty Cody Bolton.
In his first start of the year, Bolton pitched five innings, allowing just two hits and one run with six strikeouts.
The 20-year-old pitcher kept the Stone Crab bats quiet for most of the night in a 6-1 Charlotte loss.
“We ran into a pretty good pitcher,” first-year Charlotte manager Jeff Smith said. “(Bolton) was pretty tough tonight. I thought he was one of the better arms that we’ve seen this season. We didn’t really have many opportunities. We’ll just regroup and get ready for tomorrow.”
For much of the game, Charlotte (2-3) held strong defensively. Bradenton (4-1) plated a run early on an RBI-single from Oneil Cruz, scoring Travis Swaggerty.
Charlotte followed up in the bottom of the first. Vidal Brujan reached on a single before stealing second and scoring on an RBI-single from catcher Ronaldo Hernandez.
Brujan and his speed has been an asset for the Stone Crabs in their first five games recording three steals so far after finishing second league-wide last year. For Smith, it’s one of the things that has jumped out at him immediately.
“One thing you see is how athletic Brujan can be and how many different ways he can beat you on the field offensively, defensive, on the bases,” Smith said. “He’s gonna be an exciting player.”
Things were tight until a string of pitches in the fourth inning blew the open lead for Bradenton.
In four pitches, Raul Hernandez and Adrian Valerio singled on the first pitch, a passed ball moved them into scoring position and a softly lined single from Daniel Amaral scored two.
With the next at bat, Cal Mitchell tripled to right field, scoring Amaral from first. Up 4-1, Bradenton got RBIs from major leaguer Gregory Polanco, who’s on assignment rehabbing a shoulder injury, and Lucas Tancas.
“1-1 game going into the fourth inning there,” Smith said. “They ambushed a few balls on first pitches and next thing you know we couldn’t stop the bleeding. Any time a team puts up five in an inning it’s hard to battle back.”
Paul Campbell got his first High-A start of the year and battled through his three innings and change. He finished with 3 1/3 innings pitched, allowed eight hits and five earned runs with four strikeouts. Brian Shaffer and Jack Labosky each threw 2 1/3 in relief. Labosky allowed no runs with five strikeouts.
“Coming out there the first few innings I thought he had pretty good stuff,” Smith said. “I thought he showed a good curveball, strong command early. He competed. His last few innings they got a few first-pitch swings for singles and kind of got a little rally right there. He pitched fine and he’ll learn from this experience.”