PUNTA GORDA — Charlotte’s baseball team celebrated its Senior Night Friday, but didn’t have much to be happy about in the end as the Tarpons fell to Inspiration Academy 7-4 in eight innings.
Charlotte, 16-7, trailed most of the game but tied the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning on a two-run double by Kevin Conway into center field. Garrett Dunson and Kyle Machado both scored on his hit. Dunson reached base by being hit by a pitch and Machado reached on a dropped fly ball.
The score remained at tied until the top of the eighth inning. The Lions loaded the bases with no outs on two walks and an infield error.
Anthony Westbrook then hit a deep fly ball to right field that dropped just inside the fair ball line, scoring A.J. Rizzo with the eventual winning run. A sacrifice fly and a wild pitch scored the next two Inspiration Academy runs.
The Tarpons went down in order in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Inspiration Academy scored three runs in the top of the first inning for a 3-0 advantage. Charlotte scored its first run in the bottom of the first inning when Lavell Cudjo scored on an infield error. He reached first when he was hit by a pitch and stole second. He then scored on a throwing error by the Lions catcher.
After the visitors scored once in the top of the third inning, the Tarpons came back in the bottom of that inning. Dunson, was hit by a pitch and Cudjo doubled to score him.
The score remained at 4-2 until the fifth inning when Conway delivered with his double.
Robert Oettinger was the starting pitcher for Charlotte. He pitched one inning before Machado came on and pitched two innings. Zane Sanders and then Justin Hinchey finished up the pitching duties for the Tarpons. Jacob Barton pitched the first six innings for the Lions. Jake Grahmyer finished up on the mound for the Lions and was the winning pitcher.
“Our kids played hard,” Tarpons head coach Lavell Cudjo said.”We had some calls that maybe didn’t go our way but that’s baseball.”
The Tarpons will begin District 7A-11 tournament play Tuesday night when they host North Fort Myers in the semifinals. The winner of that game will play the winner of Tuesday’s game between top-seeded Venice and North Port Friday in the finals. The Tarpons are the second seed.
“Kyle (Machado) probably will be our starting pitcher,” said Cudjo. “We limited the amount of pitches our guys threw tonight. Kyle probably threw less than 30.”
Charlotte defeated North Fort Myers both times they played this season. The first and second-place district teams will advance on to the regionals.
INSPIRATION ACADEMY 7, CHARLOTTE 4Inspiration Academy 301 000 03 – 7 6 2
Charlotte 101 020 00 – 4 5 2
WP: Jake Grahmyer. LP: Justin Hinchey. Leading hitters: (I) Josh Losek 2-4, RBI; (C) Lavell Cudjo 1-2, 2B, RBI, run; Kevin Conway 2B, 2 RBI; Aaron Martins 2-4, 2B.