BASEBALL: Port Charlotte wins on senior night

By Bruce Robins, Sun Correspondent

Naples catcher, Tate Hansen, looks on as Port Charlotte’s Romain Reynolds is surrounded at home plate by his teammates after hitting a home run in the bottom of 2nd inning of Friday night’s home game (Sun Photo by Michele Haskell).

PORT CHARLOTTE — The journey for the 13 seniors on Port Charlotte’s baseball team has been a tough one.

In four years
, they had four coaches and numerous defections of players. Despite that, they remained competitive and most important, stayed a family, culminating with a great season that continues with districts next week.

And it was the seniors who would lead the Pirates again Friday night. Stephen Nagy drove in two runs and earned the win in relief as Port Charlotte downed Naples 4-2 at the Pirates Cove during Senior Night and the regular season finale for both teams, making that traditional final run around the bases even more enjoyable.

“We knew that having 13 seniors and only nine could play, we needed to get everyone in, which we did,” Charlotte coach Rodney Taylor said. “Everybody who was in tonight produced. Now, we keep it going for Monday.”

Naples (5-18) started the scoring in the second off Port Charlotte’s Matt Defore, with RBI singles from starting pitcher Dan Garcia and Tate Hansen to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

The Pirates (15-8) responded in the bottom of the inning off Garcia. Reynolds led off the inning with a solo home run to left field to cut the lead in half. Nagy tied the game with the third of three straight singles for the Pirates before Tyler Mandel drove in the lead run with a fielder’s choice.

The Pirates padded their lead in the fourth when Nagy’s sacrifice fly scored Matt LePoint.

On the mound, Nagy helped slow down the Naples bats, which did not produce a hit after the second inning. After his two scoreless innings, Devin Rack closed it out with two perfect innings.

Taylor said these four years have not been easy with all the tumult and changes. He said that the group’s resolve was the reason its members were able to keep battling and succeeding.

“They learned how to be a family and play together and have each other’s backs. Those are important things,” Taylor said. “They grew a lot.”

LePoint said the team wasn’t expected to do much, but Taylor helped to change the attitude, making this perhaps the most satisfying season.

“There’s a lot of leadership here. They want the best for the team and not themselves,” LePoint said. “We came together and said no matter who’s coaching us, we’re going to have a good season.”

As always, that final regular season home game was bittersweet, though they will play at home Monday in district tournament against North Fort Myers and again on Wednesday with a win on Monday.

“I’m going to remember the senior class my freshman year. They were leaders and helped shape me as a ballplayer, as well as Coach (Bryan) Beisner,” LePoint said. “That and my no-hitter against Ida Baker.”

Nagy said he loved playing with this group because the players know how to play the game and they’re fun.

“I’m going to take away from this making friends and building a pyramid and legacy for the underclassmen behind us,” Nagy said.

PORT CHARLOTTE 4, NAPLES 2
Naples 020 000 0 — 2 3 1
Port Charlotte 030 100 0 — 4 7 1
WP: Stephen Nagy LP: Dan Garcia. Top hitters: Stephen Nagy (PC) 1-2, 2 RBI. Romain Reynolds (PC)  2-2 HR. Records: Naples 5-18, Port Charlotte 15-8.

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