If it could go wrong for the Island Coast Gators, it did.
Gulf Coast put up seven runs in the top of the first inning and rolled to an 18-4 victory in six innings Saturday in the Region 6-4 quarterfinal playoffs at at Island Coast High School.
The Sharks (23-5) took advantage of a strong wind blowing toward right field with three triples, two of which would have been routine fly balls on a normal day.
Gators coach Clint Montgomery wouldn't use the wind as an excuse: "The wind was blowing for both teams. They took advantage of it and we didn't."
Luke Caple's solo home run for Gulf Coast cut through the wind to go over the left-field fence.
Island Coast trailed 10-0 going to the bottom of the fourth, scoring twice in the fourth and twice in the fifth to keep the game alive until the sixth inning. However, Gulf Coast put the game out of reach in the sixth with six more runs.
Drew Freeman was 4-for-4 for Gulf Coast with a triple, double, two singles, a walk and four runs scored.
Cole Ondrejka had a two-run double and Nico Rodriguez an RBI single for The Gators (16-9).
"To give up seven runs in the first inning took a lot out of us," Montgomery said. "It took us from an emotional high starting the game to a low."
Five Gators pitchers combined to issue 10 walks, two wild pitches and plunked two batters.
"We just have to throw more strikes, and find a secondary pitch," Montgomery said. "We couldn't locate a breaking ball all day, and we can't keep giving them fastballs behind in the count."
Gulf Coast (23-5) advances to play at Naples on Tuesday in the region semifinals.
Gulf Coast 712 116 - 18 14 2
Island Coast 000 220 - 4 7 0
W - Zimmerman. L - Corso.
2B - Freeman (GC), Nico Rodriguez (IC), Ondrejka (IC). 3B - Dulitz (GC), Cosme (GC), Freeman (GC). HR - Caple (GC).