By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent
PORT CHARLOTTE — Heartbreak and pride, that was Friday night for Port Charlotte’s softball team.
The Pirates battled Mariner and record-setting pitcher Hannah Holloway for 11 innings at the Pirates Cove, finally dropping a 1-0 decision in the District 6A-11 contest.
Twice, the Pirates got the potential winning run to third base, but couldn’t get the runner home. When the game ended, the potential tying and winning runs were aboard.
“What I told them was that, the way we played Tuesday — we got run-ruled — and they came back and played like this against that team against that kind of pitcher. I told them I couldn’t be more proud,” Pirates coach Ryann Baker said. “The way it was played on defense, and the way things happened, I thought they did a heck of a job.”
Holloway, who broke her own state record of 230 strikeouts in a season, had 15 strikeouts Friday night to give her 238 for the year.
Port Charlotte pitcher Seaaira Yiengst battled all night long, giving up six hits over those 11 innings. But a bases-loaded hit batter (Ariana Cruz) brought home the night’s only run for Mariner. Two hits and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases before the two-out hit batter.
“Seaaira pitched a great game. A few too many hit by pitch, but …,” Baker said.
Nicole Kroush sparkled at first base, using every bit of her lanky frame to stretch out and corral throws. And the Port Charlotte outfield played perhaps its best game of the season.
The Pirates (6-14) finished 6-6 in the district and were waiting to find out who they would face in the opening round of the district tournament later this month. Mariner (15-8, 10-2) finished second to North Fort Myers (20-3, 12-0) in the district.
“They were in the game every inning, every pitch,” Baker said.
MARINER 1 PORT CHARLOTTE 0
Mariner 000 000 000 01 — 1 6 2
Port Charlotte 000 000 000 00 — 0 3 1
WP: Hannah Holloway. LP: Seaaira Yiengst. Leading hitters: (M) Abby Love (M) 3-5; (PC) Yiengst and Jaiden Dabney 1-5. Records: Mariner 15-8, 10-2; Port Charlotte 6-14, 6-6.
The Pirates had solid pitching, solid defense and just enough hits on Friday to pull out a 6-2 victory and tighten their hold on third place in District 6A-11 with the comeback win.
The Pirates have two district games left – against first-place Ida Baker in two weeks – and have a shot at catching the Bulldogs (8-1) and Cape Coral (8-2 for the top spot going into the tournament.
“I tell you, the kids are starting to believe in themselves,” Port Charlotte coach Rod Taylor said. “I believe this is the first game we’ve played seven innings without an error. We played behind our pitcher.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better. We got timely hits. We got behind again, and we came right back.”
With Port Charlotte trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Mitchell Derocher and Jason James each drove in a run, and and third Pirates runner came home on an errant throw. Jason DelColle had an RBI single in the fifth, and Trevor Bloom and Dominic Delgaudio had RBI hits in the sixth.
Delgaudio came on in relief of winning pitcher Derek Rack to earn a save.
“Rack went out there, I asked him to throw strikes,” Taylor said, “get the job done and he did. Dominic came in and finished the job.”
PORT CHARLOTTE 6, MARINER 2
Mariner 002 000 0 — 2 3 1
Port Charlotte 000 312 x — 6 6 0
WP: Derek Rack. LP: Andrew Arsenault. Save: Dominic Delgaudio. Leading hitters: (M) Trevor Bloom 2-3, RBI; Justin Waibel 2 RBI. Records: Mariner 8-10, 4-7; Port Charlotte 11-6, 6-4.