PUNTA GORDA — For the Charlotte High School baseball team, it all came down to execution.
The Tarpons moved runners over on bunts, brought them home with sacrifice flies, and did the little things Tuesday in its District 7A-11 semifinal game against Fort Myers.
It all added up to a rather unsexy, but effective 6-2 victory to advance to the championship game Thursday against Venice, which beat Charlotte twice in the regular season.
“It was an overall team win. We executed, bunting people over, hitting three sac flies, that’s situation baseball,” Charlotte coach Lovell Cudjo said. “It’s what we’ve been striving to do all year. And we got it done at the right time.”
Aaron Martins drove in two runs for Charlotte (15-8), Michael Thomas had two hits from the No. 9 spot and three Tarpon pitchers combined to hold the Green Wave to three hits.
Fort Myers pitcher Caden Peeples breezed through the first, but got himself into big trouble in the second.
Aaron Martins, led off with a walk. After Bryse Hayse singled, Peeples muffed a sacrifice bunt from Jonah Bourque to load the bases with no outs.
Charlotte cashed in with sac flies from Hal Turner and John Dominguez to make it 2-0 Charlotte.
In the third, Kevin Conway started the inning by reaching second on an error. Machado bunted him to third and Martins brought him home on (you guessed it) a sac fly to make it 3-0 to chase Peeples.
Kyle Machado, who started the game by striking out eight of the first 10 hitters he faced, suddenly lost command, walking the bases loaded in the third before getting out of the inning.
In the fourth, Machado walked the leadoff batter, Max Fleming, before Wes Wiles doubled him home, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch to cut the Charlotte lead to 3-2.
Charlotte got those runs back and then some. Martins walked in a run in the fourth, while Michael Thomas and Conway added RBI singles in the fifth to pull away to a 6-2 lead.
“It was just small ball. We executed plays with the sac flies and that wins ballgames,” Martins said.
“Especially against good teams like that, you need situational plays.”
Conway and Hayse came on in relief and slammed the door on Fort Myers (15-9).
Cudjo said he hopes he can bring that execution to Venice, as it will be key.
“Both our games were close. If we execute and play the way we are capable of playing, we’ll be there,” Cudjo said. “We earned to get in it, so let’s go win it.”
CHARLOTTE 6, FORT MYERS 2
Fort Myers 000 200 0 — 2 3 2
Charlotte 021 120 x — 6 9 2
Batteries: Caden Peeples, Zach Root (3), Justin Clark (5) and Max Fleming, Kyle Machado, Kevin Conway (5), Bryse Hayse (7) and Aaron Martins. WP: Machado, LP: Peeples. Top hitters: Michael Thomas (CH) 2-2, RBI, run. Aaron Martins (CH) 1-1, 2 RBI. Records: FM 15-9, CHS 15-8.