Cape Coral's 2-1 victory Thursday night over Ida Baker summed up the teams' seasons to this point.
For Cape (12-4), it was another close win to help toughen the Seahawks for the upcoming district tournament and perhaps beyond. Baker (3-13) got another dose of close, but not quite.?It was close. Gabe Villaverde's shot down the first base line was ruled just foul, just as Jordan Pinto crossed the plate with what would have been the tying run for the Bulldogs in the seventh inning.
Instead, Pinto went back to third base, Villaverde wound up with a walk and Zach Nason's shot to deep center field was caught for the game's final out.
"Going into the game you know they're always going to play us tough," Seahawks coach Mike Gorton said. "Same story. Crosstown rivals, the kids know each other. They get up for it, we get up for it, and you know it's going to be a one-run, two-run ball game. You've just got to stay in it and fight."
Gorton's Seahawks, 8-0 in District 5A-12, are prepping for a district tournament run as the top seed. The Bulldogs of coach Bob Van Deventer, 0-6 in 6A-12, are in a spoiler's role when their district tournament begins.
"My coach said it (Villaverde's shot) hit dead on the line, but like I've said before if we produce a little earlier then we don't have to rely on umpires or rely on making those plays," Van Deventer said. "That's kind of where we're at. I'm happy with the way we're playing. We've just got to make the final adjustment and be willing to shoot a ball to right field."
Luke Spangler, the third Cape pitcher, worked the seventh inning for a save. Shane McClanahan (5-0) struck out seven in five innings to earn the win.
McClanahan struck out two batters to get out of the fifth inning with runners in scoring position.
"We had three of our better pitchers (Jose Almana pitched the sixth inning) going for us tonight," Gorton said. "With our pitching staff, we get in those situations. Throughout the year, the first couple you get scared and then all of a sudden half the year's gone by and you don't give up many runs off that. You have full confidence in the staff that's out there. It's nice to see them do that and have a little bit of fight. Going into district play, regional play, state championship play, every pitch is like that."
Andy Fonseca (0-3) worked two-plus innings as the Bulldogs' starter took the loss. One of the two runs he surrendered was unearned. Bryce Van Horn worked four scoreless innings of relief for the Bulldogs.
The Seahawks scored both their runs in the bottom of the second inning. Spangler reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a two-base throwing error that got Matt Hale into scoring position. Hale came home on Bailey Wilson's single.
Baker took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Cameron Farmer walked, went to second on a passed ball and reached third on Villaverde's sacrifice bunt. Nason singled to push the run home.
Baker went 1-2 in three games this week despite giving up a total of four runs.
"I'm really proud of the growth we're making," Van Deventer said. "I know the record doesn't show it, but we have grown a lot. We're real close, man. Real close to being a pretty decent team."
Cape hosts Lely in their next game while Ida Baker travels to Port Charlotte, both on Tuesday.
Baker 100 000 0 1 4 2
Cape Coral 020 000 x 2 4 1
WP - McClanahan. L - Fonseca. S - Spangler.
Island Coast 9, Fernandina Beach 3: Nikko Rodriguez capped off a big day at the plate Thursday with a two-run home run in the four-run sixth inning rally that carried Island Coast to victory.
Sean Gavitt contributed a two-run single in the sixth, Sam Malone added a two-run double in the Gators' first inning and Anthony Churlin drove in a run with a fourth-inning single.
Quinn Bourque (5-1) earned the pitching decision by striking out five batters over three innings and Cordell Hale struck out five in three innings of relief.
The Gators (11-4) visit North Fort Myers on Tuesday.
Cape Coral 17, Island Coast 0: Makenzie Buss had it working on the mound and at the plate Thursday night, leading Cape Coral to a mercy-rule victory over Island Coast.
Buss (10-2) allowed one hit in her two innings of work. At the plate, she had two base hits, including a grand slam home run in the second inning for a total of seven RBI on the night.Danielle Smith contributed a pair of hits, scored three runs and drove in two. Kery McLaughlin tripled and walked twice.
The Seahawks (11-4) host Lely on Tuesday.
North Fort Myers 11, Lehigh 1: Alynn Kayatta drove in five runs, including three on a bases-loaded double in the third inning, to lead North Fort Myers to victory Thursday night.
Katelyn Kelly had a team-high four hits and scored four runs. Sarah Waitekus delivered three hits and Melinda Thirion added three hits and two RBI.
Mackenzie Peterson (10-1) earned the pitching decision, allowing four hits and one earned run. The Knights scored three runs in the third and fifth innings to break the game open and finished it off with four runs in the sixth.
The Knights (14-1) host South Fort Myers on Tuesday.
Thursday's match results:
(Girls) Mariner 5, Cape Coral 2
Singles - Katsiaryna Khatskevich (M) def. Chrissty Flynn 6-3,6-0; Holly Fritz (M) def. Marine Tuohy 6-0,6-0; Gabrelle Grilly (CC) def. Molly Fogle 6-3, 6-2; Katlynn Bandemer (M) def. Lilian Moreno 6-0, 6-1; Samantha Smart (CC) def. Alexandra Perun 6-2, 6-0.
Doubles - Khatskevich-Fritz (M) def. Flynn-Grilly 8-1; Fogle-Bandemer (M) def. Tuohy-Moreno 8-4.
Record: Mariner 10-1.
(Boys) Cape Coral 6, Mariner 1
Singles - Bobby Greenlaw (CC) def. Cole McNelly 6-0, 6-0; Ethan Ramirez (M) def. Sam Johnson 6-4, 4-6 (11-9); Jacob Ranville (CC) def. Ryan Robertson 6-1, 6-1; Johnny Vo (CC) def. Amlan Bhattacharjee 6-2, 6-2; Tristan D-Agostino (CC) def. Jomar Restrepo 7-5, 6-2.
Doubles - Greenlaw-Johnson (CC) def. McNeely-Robertson 8-2; Ranville-Vo (CC) def. Ramirez-Restrepo 8-5.
Record: Mariner 2-7.
Next: Mariner at Dunbar, Friday.
Sports editor Jim Linette contributed to this report.