By Chuck Ballaro, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — Robert Oettinger hit a two-run homer to highlight a seven-run first inning to help Charlotte’s baseball team an 11-1 victory Friday in a District 7A-11 contest that ended in the fifth inning by the mercy rule.
Kevin Conway added a two-run single and Araon Martins had a bases-clearing double in the fifth to help put the game away for Charlotte (10-4, 4-1). The Tarpons have their hitting shoes back on after a rough stretch where they couldn’t buy a run, getting 11 hits.
“We finally got some hitting,” Charlotte coach Lavell Cudjo said. “Robert had a home run and everyone is putting the bat on the ball. When we put pressure on them, we score some runs.”
Peyton Carr’s RBI single in the first inning gave the Green Wave a 1-0 lead, but the Tarpons countered in the bottom of the inning to more than seal the issue.
Chris Nastale led off with a walk and Shane Lemaster reached on an error to put runners on second and third. Conway drove them in with a single, and came home on Oettinger’s two-run shot to make it 4-1 and chase Fort Myers starter Grant Boland without retiring a batter.
Andrew Dailey came in and allowed two hits, one an RBI single by Justin Hinchey that caromed off his foot. Nastale drove in the seventh run on a fielder’s choice.
Dailey settled down for a while and held Charlotte scoreless for 3.2 innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth with two outs. Conway doubled and Oettinger walked. After Kyle Machado reached on an infield hit to load the bases, Martins emptied them with a triple to dead center to make it 10-1.
Hunter Grosklos scattered seven hits for the Tarpons in his first start of the season after working as a closer. He walked on and struck out four and was able to dodge serious trouble after a rough start.
“I had good defense behind me, so I didn’t worry too much about the hits. I was waiting for this game, so I had to go out there and perform,” Grosklos said. “I threw bullpens during the week to build my endurance.”
Charlotte polished things off in the fifth on singles from Nastale and LeMaster and a double steal.
Conway had two hits, two RBI and two runs. Machado also scored twice.
Jake Griffith had two hits for the young Green Wave (6-9, 1-3). Cam Wademan scored Fort Myers’ lone run.
CHARLOTTE 11, FORT MYERS 1
Fort Myers 100 00 — 1 7 2
Charlotte 700 31 — 11 11 1
WP: Hunter Gorsklos; LP: Grant Boland. Top hitters: Araon Martins (CH) 1-2, 3B, 3 RBI, Robert Oettinger (CHS) 2-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs. Records: Fort Myers 6-9, 1-3; Charlotte 10-4, 4-1.