PORT CHARLOTTE — The sixth inning was an ugly one Wednesday night between North Port and Port Charlotte.
It was especially ugly for Port Charlotte.
The frame saw North Port send 15 batters to the plate, 11 runs come across, parents from the opposing teams chirping at one another and even North Port coach Dennis Bell getting tossed from the game.
But when it was all said and done, North Port earned its first 10-win season under Bell’s tenure, defeating Port Charlotte 18-4 in a six-inning game shortened by the mercy rule.
Bell was ejected by the home plate umpire after Ashley Nelson was hit in the head by a pitch from Port Charlotte’s Seaaira Yiengst. It was right after Yiengst had come into the game to replace Alexis Carpenter after Yiengst had been pulled earlier in the night, and Bell angrily thought Yiengst was throwing at his own pitcher, Nelson.
But the umpire wasn’t having any of it. He quickly tossed Bell with North Port comfortably ahead, 8-2.
“He wasn’t going to take my answer. I think he was oblivious to the whole situation and I don’t think he understood what I was talking about but I knew what I was talking about. I think everybody on this field knew what I was talking about,” Bell said. “It’s sad that it goes that route but it’s this game. It is what it is.
“But we were competitive. I’m glad the girls responded. That made me feel good as a coach that they responded in the manner that they did. It was a good win.”
The Bobcats responded by scoring 10 more runs in the inning to put the nail in the coffin. Eight of 11 runs for North Port in the sixth were unearned and 11 of its 18 total for the game were unearned thanks to eight Port Charlotte errors.
The Pirates actually led the game at one point, taking a 2-0 lead after an inning thanks to a 2-RBI single by Andi Suarez, who went 1 for 3. But they wouldn’t score again until putting one run on an error and another on an RBI single by Ali Eugenius in the sixth.
Nelson pitched the entire game for the Bobcats, giving up four runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out five, walking four and hitting two batters.
“Not that we ever want to lose a game, but as far as our bats go, we were hitting the ball a lot better tonight than we did last night (against Cape Coral),” Port Charlotte coach Ryann Baker said. “Errors yet again, that’s been the story of our life this year, they’re just killing us. It’s not really the hard-hit balls either. It’s the soft stuff we’re not playing. We’re not fielding it clean. Once we misplay it, we don’t know what to do with it afterwards.”
The top four hitters in North Port’s line did most of the damage against Yiengst and Carpenter.
Brianna Mitchell led the way, scoring twice and going 2 for 5 with five RBI, all of which came in the sixth inning. She had a 2-run single and a bases-clearing double for North Port’s final runs of the night.
Lead-off hitter Kylie Murray went 2 for 5 with an RBI triple and four runs scored. Nelson went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI and three runs scored in the two-hole. Taylor Koohns went 2 for 4 with an RBI triple and a run scored in the clean-up spot.
But Bell was pleased with his entire lineup.
“Our leadoff hitter Kylie is doing great. She’s been doing great all year but the bottom of the order though, 5-6-7-8, those girls are coming up big,” Bell said. “I know my 3-4-5 hole hitters will get their stroke down but coming into this season I knew 1-9 we weren’t going to have a weak batter. (Opponents) were going to have to pitch to all nine of my batters. There’s no easy outs. I’m very pleased.”
Yiengst took the loss for Port Charlotte, giving up 15 runs (only four earned) on nine hits with two strikeouts, five walks and two hit batters in 4 2/3 innings.
NORTH PORT 18, PORT CHARLOTTE 4
North Port 004 3011 x – 18 11 2
Port Charlotte 200 002 x – 4 6 8
WP: Ashley Nelson. LP: Seaaira Yiengst. Top hitters: (NP) Brianna Mitchell 2-5, 5 RBI, 2 R, 2B; Kylie Murray 2-5, RBI, 4 R, 3B; Ashley Nelson 2-3, 2 RBI, 3 R, BB, HBP; Taylor Koohns 2-4, RBI, 3B, R; (PC) Andi Suarez 1-3, 2 RBI; Ali Eugenius 1-2, RBI, 2 BB. Records: North Port 10-4, Port Charlotte 5-10.