BASEBALL: Charlotte’s first loss to start spring break

By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent

Charlotte’s Shane Lemaster fields the ball during Tuesday’s game against Canterbury (Sun Photo by Kat Godina).

FORT MYERS — Charlotte may have been in spring break mode Tuesday night. The opposition was too good for that.

The Tarpons suffered their first loss of the season, falling 7-0 to Canterbury School in a non-district game at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Swanson Stadium.

“We didn’t hit our spots,” Charlotte coach Lavell Cudjo said. “They hit some good pitches and we missed some spots.”

As good as Charlotte (7-1) has been early this season, this was not a night that the Tarpons had much room for error.

Canterbury has scored at least 10 runs in each of its first seven games, and hasn’t given up more than one. Coach Frank Turco’s team has outscored its opposition 92-2.

Coming off a 31-1 state championship season, the Cougars don’t just hope to be back at Fort Myers’ JetBlue Park in late May to compete for another crown, they fully expect it.

Scouts were on hand with notebooks and radar guns Tuesday to watch Canterbury starting pitcher Sam Keating. The senior didn’t disappoint, striking out 10 without a walk. One of the Tarpons’ four hits was a swinging bunt.

“You figure during the season you’re going to lose a game,” Cudjo said. “You don’t want to lose it on a couple of errors (Charlotte had three), a couple of mistakes. A team like that — they’re a good team. We knew that coming in.

“They were going to pitch their ace. We knew he was going to keep them in the game. We didn’t do what we needed to do to stay in the ballgame.”

The game’s first pitch was thrown out by the family of Canterbury’s Tyler Shook, already committed to play for FGCU next season. In the bottom of the first, he showed that he has a swing well-suited to Swanson Stadium with an opposite-field solo home run to right.

And leading off for the Cougars last night was Cooper Swanson — as in the family behind the stadium’s name.

The Cougars scored twice in the bottom of the first, including Shook’s homer, and added another run in the second for a 3-0 lead. A three-run fifth inning put the game out of reach, and four more in the sixth ended the game under the 10-run rule.

“They swung the bats well,” Cudjo said. “And you know what? You can’t always depend on the pitcher. The defense has got to help him.

“We have to clean it up. I’ve always said if we play clean baseball we’ll be in every game. We didn’t do that. We’re better than that, and we’ll do better than that.”

Still, the Tarpons did get the opportunity to play on a college field, the same field where FGCU had beaten both Florida and Ohio State days before. The field where superstar pitcher Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox made his name.

“I appreciate Dave Tollett (FGCU’s coach) for allowing this, for letting the kids come out and play in a park like this,” Cudjo said. “They get to see what the next level looks like.”

CANTERBURY 10, CHARLOTTE 0
Charlotte 000 000 — 0 4 3
Canterbury 210 034 — 10 11 0
WP: Sam Keating; LP: Kyle Machado. Leading hitters: (Ch) Garrett Dunson and Clay Toth (Char) 1-2; (Ca) Giovanni Digiacomo 3-4, 3 RBI, Run; Cooper Swanson 2-3, RBI, 3 Runs. Records: Charlotte 7-1, Canterbury 7-0.

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