By GARY BROWN
LEHIGH ACRES — Hollywood couldn’t have come up with a more exciting scenario for the final day of a baseball tournament.
The Little League Section 6 10-12 all-stars tournament ended its first day of competition Saturday with all four teams posting 1-1 records going into today’s final day at the Lehigh Acres Little League Park.
North Port lost to San Carlos 6-2 in the opener Saturday morning, but stayed alive with a thrilling come-from-behind 9-8 victory over Naples.
Today there will be two final games at 9 a.m. North Port will take on South Fort Myers and San Carlos will play Naples. If North Port beats South Fort Myers and Naples beats San Carlos, North Port will be the champion because it defeated Naples. If San Carlos beats Naples and North Port beats South Fort Myers, San Carlos will be the champion because it defeated North Port. If North Port loses to South Fort Myers, it will not be the champion.South Fort Myers beat San Carlos 11-2 and Naples defeated South Fort Myers 8-4 earlier.
But North Port’s victory over Naples was a stunner. They trailed Naples 8-7 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Devon Jackson opened the inning with a single and Eli Porinchak struck out. Jacob Lombard hit a ground ball and beat out the throw at first base. Cooper Boggess hit into a fielders choice with Lombard out at second. Boggess then stole second to put runners at third and second. Landon Wade then hit a drive into right field just beyond the Naples outfielder and Jackson and Boggess raced home with the tying and winning runs. That brought
the North Port players out of their dugout in a wild celebration as they stayed alive in their chances of winning the section title and gaining a berth in next weekend’s state tournament in Coral Springs.
North Port took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as leadoff batter Mason Allen singled and Porinchak, who was the starting pitcher in the second game, belted a double to bring him in with the game’s first run.
But Naples came back with three runs in the top of the second inning to take a 3-1 advantage. North Port refused to quit and scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Logan Cook, Lombard, Wade, Landon Davidson and A.J. Heydet each added hits. That gave North Port a 5-3 advantage. Naples scored once in the top of the third inning to cut the margin to one, but North Port came back to score two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning for a 7-4 lead and things were looking good for North Port.
But Naples struck back in a big way, scoring four runs in the top of the fifth inning, with first baseman Cutter Smith’s two-run home run over the fence between center and right field the big blast.
North Port failed to score in the bottom of the fifth inning and Naples didn’t score in the top of the sixth. That set up North Port’s winning rally. Lombard, who relieved Porinchak in the fifth, was the winning pitcher.
“Our players came out for the second game with all their heart,” said North Port manager Dave Santimauro. “We just didn’t hit in the first game.”
In the first game, North Port and San Carlos battled to a scoreless tie after 3 1/2 innings. But San Carlos broke loose in the bottom of the fourth inning for five runs that determined the outcome of the game. North Port scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning but that was all they could get. Jackson was North Port’s starting pitcher, going four innings. He didn’t allow a run into the fourth inning and generally kept the San Carlos batters off balance with fast balls.
North Port qualified for the section tournament by winning the District 16 tournament, going 3-0 while beating Englewood once and Sarasota National twice.