By Gary Brown, Sun Correspondent
PUNTA GORDA – The saying, “It’s never over until it’s over,” applied to the Charlotte High School baseball team Monday night.
The Tarpons rallied for a 7-6 non-distict victory over visiting Estero in the bottom of the seventh inning when they scored five runs. The big hit came on Justin Hinchey’s two-run single with two outs, which tied the score at 6-6. Clayton Toth then hit a ground ball, which got away from the Wildcats shortstop and scored Aaron Martins for the winning run.
Earlier in the inning, Robert Oettinger and Lavell Cudjo belted RBI singles to cut the Estero lead to 6-4. After a strikeout, things looked dim for the Tarpons before Hinchey’s big hit.
“It was the first pitch to me,” Hinchey said. “It was a fast ball and it was probably my most clutch hit of the season.”
“I told the players to take a first strike. Then get wide and make contact and they did just that,” Charlotte coach Lavell Cudjo said.
Kevin Conway started on the mound for Charlotte and went four-plus innings before the Wildcats scored four runs to take a 5-1 lead. The teams traded runs before the Tarpons’ big comeback.
Zane Sanders went the rest of the way and got the victory for Charlotte.
“Kevin pitched pretty well for us,” Cudjo said. “He just went through that tough inning (in the fifth). Zane also did a good job for us. (Estero) is a pretty good team.”
Hinchey had a good night. Besides the two-RBI hit, he also belted a double in the third inning and scored the Tarpons’ first run. Oettinger also had two hits for the Tarpons, including a double, and walked once.
CHARLOTTE 7, ESTERO 6
Estero 100 040 1 – 6 10 3
Charlotte 001 001 5 – 7 10 1
WP: Zane Sanders. LP: Carson King. Leading hitters: (E) Kevin Long 3-4, RBI; (C) Justin Hinchey 2-4, 2 RBI, R, 2B; Lavell Cudjo 2-4; Robert Oettinger 2-3, 2B, BB.