BASEBALL: North Port shut out by Venice

By Gary Brown, Sun Correspondent

North Port short stop Charlie Topp (9) forces Venice left fielder Jake Starck (6) at second and throws to first to complete a double play during the first inning Tuesday at North Port High School (Sun Photo by Tom O’Neill).

NORTH PORT – Venice High School’s baseball team finished second in the Class 7A state playoffs last season and won the championship the previous two seasons.

So, when a team plays the Indians, it needs to be prepared to make the most of its chances.

Unfortunately for the North Port, it couldn’t do that and lost to the Indians 3-0 Tuesday night in the District 7A-11 opener for both teams.

North Port had base runners picked off attempting to steal in both the first and second innings. In the fourth inning, the Bobcats looked like they had picked off a Venice player going to second base. But the umpire ruled that Bobcats pitcher Charlie Davidson had balked and the runner advanced to second.

Other than that, Davidson had an outstanding game pitching. He went the distance on the mound, struck out seven batters, allowed just four hits, walked just one and hit one batter.

But Venice starter  Caleb Williams was even better. He struck out 10 batters in five and two-thirds innings, allowed four hits, walked one and hit one batter.

The Indians scored twice in the top of the third inning to break a scoreless tie. With one out, Nick Riccardi was hit by a pitch. Danny Rodriguez beat out a bunt to first base and Riccardi went all the way to third base. Jake Starck laid down a sacrifice bunt, allowing Riccardi to score. Kevin Dubrule then doubled to bring in Rodriguez for a 2-0 lead.

The visitors scored their third run in the sixth inning. With one out, Joey Kinker doubled to left field. After a strikeout, Mitch Donofrio belted a single to score Kinker.

The Bobcats’ best chance to score was in the fourth inning. North Port had runners on third and first base, but Williams struck out Nathan Vetter to end the inning. In the next inning, Williams struck out the side and the Bobcats never threatened again.

“We were hurt by offensive mistakes,” North Port coach Dan Pavlue said. “Our pitching and defense were fine tonight, but we need to work on improving our offense and base running. Charlie did a great job pitching tonight.”

Venice manager Chris Faulkner also had praise for Williams.

 “He’s definitely our no. 1 pitcher,” Faulkner said. “He’s the guy we go to. He has three very good pitches; the fast ball, curve and change-up.”

North Port will play at 7 p.m. Friday at Charlotte in another district game. The Indians will host Fort Myers at 7 p.m. Friday.

Venice 002 001 0 – 3 4 0
North Port 000 000 0  – 0 4 0
WP: Caleb Williams. LP: Charlie Davidson. Leading hitters: Kevin Dubrule (V) 1-3, 2B, RBI; Dominic Lefever (NP) 2-3, 2B. Records: Venice 5-1, North Port 4-2.

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