WEST VILLAGES — There was a different vibe in the North Port dugout as the Bobcats took on Venice for the second time in a week at CoolToday Park on Friday.
Though the Indians (15-4, 4-0) scored in three straight innings to build a comfortable lead, winning 8-2, the Bobcats (11-7, 0-4) were much more pleased with their performance in Round 2.
The glitz and glamour of the newly built Braves spring training complex had subsided and North Port came in ready to play. It showed in the first 2 1/2 innings.
North Port pitcher Brandon Long retired the first six batters he faced and the Bobcats offense got five hits, a run and a walk.
“They did what we wanted them to, we told them to be aggressive,” North Port coach Miles Mayer said.
“They’ve got good arms over there, they’re gonna pound the zone. And yeah, there was a difference in our dugout compared to last Friday. The shine and all that, you couldn’t see that as much.”
The first run of the game came off an RBI single from North Port’s Ethan Krizen in the top of the third inning. Krizen lined a ball to centerfield, allowing Brandon Corso to score from third. Long pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
But Venice began its charge from there.
The Indians plated three runs in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double from Mac Guscette and the go-ahead runs on a two-RBI single from Kevin Dubrule.
“We just wanted to be more aggressive,” Faulkner said.
“They were a lot more aggressive swingers than we were. We’ve got a good order all the way through. There’s a different hero every night.”
North Port kept its aggressive nature going, scoring on a well-placed bunt by Lazaro Salazar to score a charging Jayson Zmejkoski from third base in the top of the fourth to make it 3-2.
Marek Houston proved productive for Venice in the bottom of the order.
He singled on a fly ball to centerfield to score Reegan Jackowiak and Danny Rodriguez.
Clay Callan came in as relief in the fourth inning and pitched four innings, allowing two hits and no earned runs with five strikeouts to earn the win. Orion Kerkering went three innings, allowing two runs on six hits with four strikeouts.
“That’s what he does,” Venice coach Craig Faulkner said of Callan. “Our starting pitching is real good, but our relievers are good too. Our sidearm guys come in throwing strikes and are very effective.”
Venice tacked on three more runs in the final two innings. Aidan Corn went 2-for-4 and Chason Rockymore went 2-for-3, with each driving in a run.