After Friday night’s game was rained out in Port Charlotte, Monday’s game at Lemon Bay was the only time this season these non-district rivals will have a chance to do battle.
Unfortunately, for the Manta Rays, that leaves them without a chance to get even after dropping a 9-3 contest at Jack Llewellyn field.
With a five-run hitless rally in the opening inning, Port Charlotte had Lemon Bay on the ropes from the start. While Rays starter Matt Lintz struggled with his control, he also had little help from his defense as three errors were committed behind him during a 35-minute opening half inning.
The first run crossed after the Pirates cleanup hitter Jordan Delcolle was hit by a pitch. The bases were loaded in front of him as a result of three walks. A pair of outfield errors fueled the next four runs. Ryan Lomski picked up the only other RBI of the inning when he walked with the bases full.
“We were flat tonight. We’ve been preaching for the last few weeks about having good energy and when we have that we play well,” said Rays coach Dan Flaherty. “When we don’t, this is often the result. I’m not overly concerned. I know us to bounce back.”
Lemon Bay managed to get one back in the bottom of the first. Zach Sparby grounded into a fielder’s choice that plated Tyler Intihar who opened the frame with a single.
Tyler Zylstra pitched a solid game for the Pirates. He went 5 1/3 innings to earn the victory.
“My main goal was to keep my composure and pitch to contact and let my defense do their work,” said Zylstra. “My curve ball wasn’t working early, but my change up was strong tonight. We started throwing a slider and that worked well too. I was getting ahead of batters mixing in the slider and change up.”
The Manta Rays, which clinched the top seed in District 5A-12 last Thursday, were hoping to cool down a streaking Pirates team. Port Charlotte struggled through a three-game losing streak in mid-March. They have won of nine of their last 10 since.
The Pirates presently sit second in their district, but still have a pair of important games against Ida Baker before the final seeds are determined. All district tournaments begin the week of May 6.
The Manta Rays have just five more games remaining on their regular-season schedule. All but one, are on the road (vs. North Fort Myers on April 30). Next up, they travel to Bradenton to meet IMG Academy Gray at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Pirates play the home-and home with Ida Baker beginning tonight at 7p.m.