By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Seaaira Yiengst continues to battle, no matter how much pain her ankle is in.
And in Monday night’s District 6A-11 quarterfinal against Cape Coral, Port Charlotte’s ace pitched one of her best games of the season, despite still walking with a limp after nearly a month since her injury.
Yiengst took a no-hitter into the fourth inning and pitched a complete game, striking out seven hitters while giving up just one run on four hits to lead the Pirates past the Seahawks 6-1 at home. Port Charlotte will travel to top-seeded North Fort Myers for Wednesday’s district semifinal with a spot in the regional playoffs on the line.
“I was feeling pretty good. Just to come out and have strikeouts and throw strikes without playing for the last week kind of surprised me,” said Yiengst, who hadn’t pitched since Apr. 12 against Charlotte. “I was a little bit worried, but honestly, it was exciting. The defense was behind me and I was just throwing strikes as well as I could.
Port Charlotte has been the victim of its own errors at times this season but it was the beneficiary of Cape Coral’s mistakes Monday night. The Seahawks committed five errors, which led to three unearned runs that helped create some distance on the scoreboard for the Pirates, who didn’t commit a single error.
“That’s what happens whenever you don’t have errors,” Port Charlotte coach Ryann Baker said. “Come Wednesday, we can’t make errors. We have to make the routine plays. You can’t have errors against a team like (North Fort Myers) because if that happens, it’s going to be what kills us.”
Yiengst, who first injured her ankle on Apr. 4 against Mariner, says the clean defense behind her was a big boost for her morale.
“It boosted my confidence a lot because I was very nervous. It was nerve-racking to come back after not playing for awhile and it was just nice to see that they were there doing their job,” Yiengst said.
Ali Eugenius went 2-for-4 with an RBI while Olivia Hernandez and Alexis Queior also drove home a run off of Cape Coral starter Alyssa Mellaci, who pitched the whole game and gave up three earned runs on six hits, five walks and two hit batters. But the Pirates still left 11 runners on base, including the bases loaded twice, something they certainly can’t do against North Fort Myers.
“Even though I thought we played a good game, we left 11 runners on base and a lot of them were in scoring position so that wasn’t good, but we did what we had to do to get a win,” Baker said.
Cape Coral’s first error of the night came in the first inning, which allowed Hernandez to score. Eugenius, who reached base on the error, then scored on an RBI single by Queior to put Port Charlotte up 2-0 right off the bat. The Pirates then scored runs in the next four innings to put the game away, with Eugenius’ RBI single putting them up 3-0 after two frames.
The Seahawks committed two more errors in the third to allow Alyssa Allred to score and give the Pirates a four-run lead. After the Seahawks got on the board via Kaitlyn Nelsen’s RBI single in the top of the fourth, they committed their fifth error of the night in the bottom of the inning that allowed Eugenius to come home following her triple.
Port Charlotte’s final run of the night came on a bases-loaded walk by Mellaci in the fifth.
“We had to adjust a little bit of a slower pitcher, which isn’t a bad thing for them but they executed bunts we I asked them to so I hope they can carry this over to Wednesday,” Baker said.
PORT CHARLOTTE 6, CAPE CORAL 1
Cape Coral 000 100 0 – 1 4 5
Port Charlotte 211 110 X – 6 6 0
WP: Seairra Yiengst. LP: Alyssa Mellaci. Leading hitters: (PC) Ali Eugenius 2-4, 3B, RBI, 2 R; Olivia Hernandez 1-5, 2B, 2 R; Alexis Querior 1-4, RBI; (CC) Kaitlyn Nelsen 1-3, RBI. Records: Port Charlotte 7-18, Cape Coral 7-16.