By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Devin Rack pitched well Wednesday night, but unfortunately for Port Charlotte, not as well as Island Coast’s Chase Chatman.
Chatman’s seven shutout innings led the sixth-seeded Gators to a 6-0 win, advancing them to the District 6A-11 championship and finishing the 2017 baseball season for the second-seeded Pirates.
“It’s tough,” Port Charlotte coach Rodney Taylor said. “Being my first varsity group, I wanted nothing more for them to at least get a taste to play (in regionals), and least for the 13 seniors. I don’t take anything away from us, or Island Coast. They came out here focused. I tip my hat to them.”
Island Coast scored a run in each of the first two innings, and that’s all it turned out to need behind Chatman’s effort.
Rack left the game after two batters reached in the sixth inning. Both runners came around to score off reliever Dominic Delgaudio, who also allowed two more runs for a 6-0 deficit.
Although he was tagged for four runs — three earned — Rack gave up just two hits in this five-plus innings of work. He also walked a pair and hit another batter, all of whom eventually came around to score.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Taylor said. “We just didn’t produce for him.”
A controversial call in the third inning had a fairly large impact on the game, as it was a 2-0 margin at the time.
With a runner on second base and only one out, Hunter Wilder looked to beat out a throw from shortstop Christian Odio — which even the Island Coast fans believed — yet the first-base umpire called Wilder out.
Despite a lengthy protest from Taylor, the call remained, which effectively ended any chances at a rally for that inning. Rather than two men on with one out, there were two outs with one man on.
Still, Port Charlotte managed just two hits against Chatman, who was incredibly efficient, tossing just 59 pitches over the first five innings while striking out eight in that span. Chatman ended his night with 89 pitches and 10 strikeouts.
“He was really, really good,” Island Coast coach Clint Montgomery said. “His curveball was sharp and he located his fastball. I mean, he was everything that you could ask in a pitcher in a big game. He had cool nerves and it helped getting some runs early.”
Jordan Delcolle and Damien Ashley were the only two Pirates who managed to reach on a base hit. Mitchell Derocher and Jason James both reached on errors.
Those were the only four base runners all night for Port Charlotte.
This was the third meeting of the season between these two teams, and the Pirates won each of the previous two games.
The Gators will go on to face No. 1 seed Ida Baker for the district championship.
ISLAND COAST 6, PORT CHARLOTTE 0
Island Coast 111 004 0 — 6 6 2
Port Charlotte 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
WP: Chase Chatman. LP: Devin Rack. Leading Hitters: (IC): Mason Schweizer 1-2, 2 BB, 2 R; Matt Harvel 1-2, 2BB, 2 R (PC): Damien Ashley 1-2. Records: Island Coast 9-19; Port Charlotte 14-9.