By Gary Brown, Sun Correspondent
PORT CHARLOTTE — Matt LePoint was last year’s Sun baseball player of the year. And this season, he looks like he’s picking up where he left off.
LePoint opened Port Charlotte’s regular season Thursday night with a two-hit shutout that included 12 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory against Cardinal Mooney at the Pirates’ Cove.
He gave up singles in the first and seventh innings. In the first inning, he loaded the bases with a single, hit batter and walk with one out. But he struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
In the seventh inning, the right-hander gave up an opening single, but got the next three batters to end the game. He only allowed three balls to the outfield.
“I think 12 strikeouts might’ve been the most I’ve ever had,” LePoint said. “I might’ve struck out 12 last season. Tonight, my fastball was working really well. I usually get most of my strikeouts with that, but my slider was really good also.”
The Pirates scored the only run they needed in the bottom of the first inning. Hunter Wilder walked to open the inning and Jordan Delcalle single to send Wilder to second. LePoint was out at first base on a fielder’s choice, advancing both runners. Matt Intihar then hit a deep fly ball for a sacrifice fly that scored Wilder. That was all the Pirates needed.
LePoint, who has verbally committed to West Point, also threw a one-hitter when he was a sophomore.
The victory was especially important for first-year head coach Rodney Taylor. He was head coach of the Port Charlotte softball team for many seasons before returning to the position this season.
“This is a great feeling tonight,” Taylor said. “It was a lot of fun. The players had fun and they’re like a family. This is huge.”
Cardinal Mooney starting pitcher Alex Rodman also pitched brilliantly. He went five innings, allowed just two hits and struck out four. Josh Weber pitched the sixth inning for the Cougars.
Port Charlotte ended with three hits to two for the visitors. The Pirates will play again at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Cypress.
PORT CHARLOTTE 1, CARD. MOONEY 0
Cardinal Mooney 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Port Charlotte 100 000 x — 1 3 0
WP: Matt LePoint (1-0) LP: Alex Rodman (0-1). Records: (CM) 1-1, (PC) 1-0