BASEBALL: Charlotte gets shutout by Sarasota

By Bruce Robins, Sun Correspondent

SARASOTA — Four Sarasota pitchers teamed for a two-hit shutout Tuesday night as the Sailors blanked Charlotte 6-0 in a Sarasota Baseball Classic quarterfinal.

The Tarpons returned from a week off for spring break and fell flat against the tournament hosts, falling behind early and unable to generate any offense all night.

“We had this conversation at our last practice when they got back,” Charlotte coach Lavell Cudjo said. “Where are we going to be? We had one day of practice and we came here to play, and I could just tell something wasn’t right. They’ve been on spring break and how many kids worked out on spring break? But we have to find a way to get back and get the train back on the tracks.”

The Sailors scored twice in the bottom of the first inning against starter and loser Kevin Conway.

Alex Arauz led off with a single and Ben McCabe and Cole Madden drew walks to load the bases. With two outs, Joey Arnold hit a ground ball just inside the third base line that eluded a diving Kyle Machado for a two-run double.

Sarasota got another run in the second when Brooks Larson reached on an infield single, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a passed ball.

The Sailors loaded the bases again in the third and got one run on a force out at second and another on a double steal. Sarasota completed its scoring in the fourth when Arauz led off with a double, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on McCabe’s sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, the Tarpons got a lead off double from Robert Oettinger in the second inning, and had the lead off man on in both the third and fourth. The Sailors pitchers, however,  were able to keep Charlotte off the scoreboard.

“I was afraid that this might happen,” Cudjo said. “We’re not swinging the bats well. You put yourself in a bad situation. You may get a bad call here and there, but other than that, you’ve got to swing the bats.

“If you’re looking for an excuse, you’ll find one. If you go out and get the job done, if you go out and go 100 percent, I don’t care if you strike out. No excuses, I don’t want you coming back to the bench with excuses. We have to make contact. And we will. We’ll get better.”

The Tarpons have dropped two in a row after a 7-0 start, and were shut out for the second straight time. Charlotte batters fanned 11 times in the game.

“If we come to play like we’re capable of playing, we’ll be in every game,” Cudjo said.  “We learned that tonight. Another game where we didn’t play up to our abilities. Take nothing away from Sarasota, they’re a good ball team, but so are we. We need to get back to playing good baseball.”

Charlotte 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Sarasota 212 100 X — 6 8 2
WP: Phil Shore.  LP: Kevin Conway. Leading hitters: (S) Alex Arauz 2-4, 2B, 2 runs; Joey Arnold 2-2, 2B, run, 2 RBI; (C) Robert Oettinger 1-3, 2B; Shane LeMaster 1-4.  Records: Charlotte 7-2, Sarasota 7-3.

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