Gates Fans 15 in Perfect Game, NCT beats Central 10-0
By: Brandon Webster
Looking to put together their first win streak this season, Nature Coast (4-2) turned to J.P. Gates, who helped deliver them a 10-0 win over county rival Central.
In front of the home crowd Gates, did something that very few pitchers have ever done, as he would strike out every hitter he faced.
Gates threw a prefect game striking out all 15 hitters the Bears (3-3) sent to the plate before the game ended via the 10-run mercy rule.
Gates, who is arguably the best pitching prospect in the North Suncoast area used his combination of fastball and curveball to keep the Central hitters off balance in his dominant performance.
“I felt good, and felt a little sick,” Gates said. “I was trying to get over that.”
The Sharks started their offense early, as Zach Funkhouser reached first on an error and came home after Ryan Lotito, who reached on a walk, forced a bad throw from the first baseman in a pickoff attempt.
Nature Coast scored three more runs to extend the lead when Lotito worked his second walk of the game and came around to score on Gates’ RBI double. Brandon Santiago knocked in Gates with a single and would later score on a wild pitch from Central pitcher Matthew Voda.
Five more Sharks crossed the plate in the fourth. Funkhouser singled with one out, and after a stolen base, he advanced to third on Lotito’s sacrifice bunt. Gates walked putting runners on the corners and Brandon Riera knocked in both with a single. Santiago followed with a single scoring Riera to take a 6-0 lead. However, NCT wasn’t done, as they scored two more runs on freshman Jonathon McMath’s RBI single taking a 9-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth Brandon Frangione would deliver the knockout punch, as he ripped a single to the left-center field wall scoring the final run to end the game.
Nature Coast now will put their focus on Monday’s matchup with unbeaten rival Springstead.
When asked whether there is extra motivation to beat his former team Frank Vitale who still teaches at Springstead said no.
“I know all the kids there, I’m the P.E. teacher there and they’re in my class.” Vitale said. “I talk to them all the time and have a good relationship with them, and Coach Laferty was my assistant coach when I was at Springstead. ”