By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
High school baseball is about a third of the way through the regular season and one team in the area has stood out from the rest. That’s Charlotte, which started the season 7-0 before running into a buzzsaw in Canterbury Tuesday night for its first loss of the season. The Tarpons’ bats have been hot to start the season, hitting .317 as a team, with Lavell Cudjo, Aaron Martins and Shane LeMaster all hitting .400 or better.
While Charlotte is 2-0 in district play so far, its district rival North Port has been on the opposite end of the standings. Although the Bobcats sit a game over .500 overall, they’ve dropped both their district contests so far this season.
Port Charlotte is riding a 4-game winning streak under first-year coach Rodney Taylor, who will be the first to tell you the Pirates are still a work in progress despite sweeping a doubleheader from Lemon Bay on Tuesday. Pitcher Matt LePoint has already made a case to repeat as the Sun’s all-area player of the year and Matt Intihar has stepped up at the plate with a .433 batting average, tied for best in the area with Lemon Bay’s Trey Fields.
Over in Englewood, things aren’t going so well. Lemon Bay had a chance to pull back to the .500 mark this week but dropped both games of a doubleheader to Port Charlotte by a combined score of 20-8 to fall to 3-7 on the season. Luckily for the Manta Rays, the games that matter most still lie ahead as they still have five district games left on the schedule after already winning their first over Lake Placid on March 10.
Season record: 7-1 (2-0 in District 7A-11)
Season record: 4-3 (0-2 in District 7A-11)
Season record: 4-3 (0-2 in District 7A-11)
Season record: 6-3 (2-2 in District 6A-11)
Season record: 3-7 (1-0 in District 5A-12)
There are three sophomores over at Charlotte making a lot of noise with their bats as well as their arms. Catcher Aaron Martins is the only player in the area with multiple home runs, going yard twice this season, and he also leads the area with 13 RBI while hitting .400. Kevin Conway and Kyle Machado are both hitting .333 with six RBI apiece while also stifling hitters on the mound. The duo has combined to go 5-1 as starters this season with a combined ERA of 2.04. Have I mentioned all players are committed to Florida Gulf Coast?
Across the Tennessee line
After playing in Key West the past two years during spring break, North Port coach Dan Pavlue decided to take his team out of state this season for a new challenge. The Bobcats travel to Hixson, Tenn. today for the Wildcat Classic at Hixson High School, playing four games over the course of two days — Hixson and Soddy Daisy today and Chattanooga Central and McMinn County on Saturday. Depending on how North Port does in those four games, it could play in the tournament championship on Sunday.
Taking baby steps
It took a few games into the season but Port Charlotte has started to hit an upward swing over the past two weeks. After winning their first two games of the season, the Pirates dropped three straight before winning four in a row. A big reason for their recent streak has been their pitching, with Matt LePoint posting a perfect ERA of 0.00 this season despite losing a start due to some errors.
Diving to the disabled list
During the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Port Charlotte, Lemon Bay outfielder Josh Gossett was injured making a fantastic diving catch for an out. Turns out, he broke his collarbone and will miss the next eight weeks. It’s a tough break for Gossett and the Manta Rays, as the sophomore also plays catcher and has a perfect fielding percentage this season.
Hitting (minimum 10 at-bats)
Player School H AB AVG
Trey Fields Lemon Bay 13 30 .433
Matt Intihar Port Charlotte 13 30 .433
Kody Brittain North Port 6 14 .429
Lavell Cudjo Charlotte 9 21 .429
Dominic LeFever North Port 9 21 .429
Josh Sweiderk Lemon Bay 9 21 .429
Shane LeMaster Charlotte 10 25 .400
Aaron Martins Charlotte 12 30 .400
Chace Shork Lemon Bay 8 20 .400
Trevor Bloom Port Charlotte 6 16 .375
Jacob Treece Lemon Bay 11 30 .367
Chris Naskale Charlotte 4 11 .364
Romain Reynolds Port Charlotte 6 17 .353
Charlie Davidson North Port 7 20 .350
Kevin Conway Charlotte 6 18 .333
Kyle Machado Charlotte 5 15 .333
Robert Oettinger Charlotte 6 20 .300
Player School HR
Aaron Martins Charlotte 2
Trey Fields Lemon Bay 1
Runs batted in
Player School RBI
Aaron Martins Charlotte 13
Matt Intihar Port Charlotte 8
Brandon Muniz North Port 8
Chace Shork Lemon Bay 8
Kevin Conway Charlotte 6
Trey Fields Lemon Bay 6
Kyle Machado Charlotte 6
Jason James Port Charlotte 6
Josh Sweiderk Lemon Bay 6
James Barnes Charlotte 5
Brandon Gielow Lemon Bay 5
Pitching (minimum 10 innings)
Player School W-L IP K ERA
Matt LePoint Port Charlotte 2-1 17.1 29 0.00
Jake Eastman Charlotte 2-0 11.0 13 0.36
Kevin Conway Charlotte 2-0 14.0 19 1.50
Charlie Topp North Port 2-1 15.0 9 1.87
Charlie Davidson North Port 1-2 15.0 13 2.19
Devin Rack Port Charlotte 3-1 19.0 19 2.24
Kyle Machado Charlotte 3-1 20.1 22 2.41
Jacob Treece Lemon Bay x-x 13.2 12 3.07
Trey Fields Lemon Bay x-x 10.2 15 3.28
Dominic Delgaudio Port Charlotte 1-0 16.0 12 4.25
Brandon Gielow Lemon Bay x-x 11.1 21 4.94
*Pitching records were not provided by Lemon Bay