NORTH PORT — Charlie Topp and Jayden Blashinsky combined on a four-hitter Friday night as North Port blanked Riverview, 3-0, in a non-district game.
The Bobcats (4-1) managed only three hits of their own, but took advantage of shoddy fielding by the Rams (3-2) to bounce back from their first defeat of the season on Wednesday.
“The kids came ready tonight. They played hard,” North Port coach Dan Pavlue said. “It wasn’t our cleanest game in the world, but they did enough to win a ballgame and that’s all I can ask for.”
The Bobcats scored the only run they would need in the bottom of the first inning. Charlie Davidson led off with a single and Brandon Corso drew a walk. Davidson then stole third and scored when Topp hit into a double play.
That’s how it stayed through the fourth inning, despite the Bobcats loading the bases with nobody out in the third, and getting a runner to third base with one out in the fourth.
But Davidson and Corso walked to open the bottom of the fifth, chasing Rams starter Colling Wieghorst. Reliever Mitchell Sundlin threw a wild pitch on his first offering, moving the runners up a base. After Topp grounded out to short, Dominic LeFever laid down a bunt in front of the plate. Davidson came home when Riverview catcher Josh Eslinger threw high to first, allowing LeFever to beat out the bunt for a hit and Corso to score on the throwing error.
“We had a lot of opportunities to try to drive in runs with less than two outs,” Pavlue said. “For whatever reason, we weren’t coming up with that clutch hit and putting good swings on the ball. “That’s a play (bunt) we’ll use not just in that situation. It’s a safety squeeze play. We practice it all the time and we executed it pretty well. It worked out for us.”
That gave North Port all the runs it needed, as Blashinsky replaced Topp on the mound in the fifth and allowed just one hit over the final three innings to earn the save.
“Great performance from Charlie. It was a good start from him,” Pavlue said. “Then Jayden came in and did an excellent job and threw strikes. That was the plan all along. We’re trying to be smart about our pitchers arms early in the season. We’re not trying to push anybody.
“It’s a long season and we have a lot of innings left to eat up. We have all the confidence in the world in our other pitchers to come in and throw strikes.”
The Bobcats open district play by hosting Venice at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
NORTH PORT 3, RIVERVIEW 0
Riverview 000 000 0 — 0 4 4
North Port 100 020 x — 3 3 0
WP: Charlie Topp; LP: Colling Wieghorst. Leading hitters: (NP) Charlie Davidson 1-1, 2 runs; Dominic LeFever 1-3, RBI; (R) Linares Aramis 2-2. Records: North Port 4-1, Riverview 3-2.