PUNTA GORDA — It was going to take a near perfect game for the banged-up Charlotte High baseball team to stay with visiting Inspiration Academy Wednesday night.
Instead, five Tarpon pitchers combined to issue 12 walks and hit five more batters as Charlotte fell to the Lions, 20-7, in a game called after six innings.
The Lions only needed 11 hits to score those 20 runs, taking advantage of wildness by Tarpon starter Quaid Goff and relievers Zach Schooley and Koen Lockett to jump out to a 10-0 lead after the first three innings.
“We’re struggling to hit and our pitching is just not deep this year,” Charlotte coach Lavell Cudjo said. “I knew if we didn’t get runners on early and score on them early, they were going to score runs.”
Charlotte fought back in the bottom of the third after Lions starter Logan O’Leary, who retired the first six batters in order, hit Tyler Waterhouse and Lockett to start the inning. A walk to Cam Goff loaded the bases and one run scored on an error by second baseman Jose Ayala. Then John Busha delivered the Tarpons first hit of the night to score two runs and Justin McQueen came around on a wild pitch.
Charlotte scored three more times in the fourth as Coby Radelesco singled, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch. Lockett got to third in similar fashion and came home when left fielder Justin Hildreth dropped Goff’s fly ball. Goff scored ton McQueen’s RBI single to make it 10-7.
But a three-run homer by Landon O’Donnell in the top of the fifth got the Lions back on track and they scored six times in the top of the sixth to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
“We kept competing,” Cudjo said. “But when you can’t throw strikes you shoot yourself in the foot. All that work you did to stay in it goes away really quickly when you’re facing those hitters.”
The Tarpons, losers of six of their last seven, will travel to Parrish Community on Friday night.
Prep sports brief
Riverview 5, Charlotte 2
The Charlotte High softball team fell to 8-5 on the season after dropping a 5-2 decision to Riverview Wednesday night.
Amber Chumley had three hits, including a double and a triple, and both RBI for the Tarpons, while Laci Hendrickson allowed four runs on nine hits over 5.2 innings for the loss.