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Another strong pitching performance by Rodriguez leads Gators

Island Coast downs South Fort Myers on Senior Night

By CJ HADDAD - | Apr 14, 2021

Island Coast senior Kevin Rodriguez (6) struck out 11 in picking up a win in the Gators' game against South Fort Myers Tuesday night. To view more photos from the game, see the Cape Coral Breeze Facebook page. MICHAEL PISTELLA mpistella@breezenewspapers.com

It was a memorable Senior Night for the Island Coast High School baseball team Tuesday evening, as the Gators defeated South Fort Myers 8-2 behind a dazzling outing from starting pitcher Kevin Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, a senior, earned the win and allowed just one run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander certainly earned the nickname K-Rod, striking out 11 Wolfpack batters — including the last five he faced — adding to his lofty season total. He also attacked the zone, throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count, not walking a batter all night.  

“Kevin has had a special year for us,” said Gator head coach Clint Montgomery. “He’s somewhere around 75 strikeouts versus five walks on the season. Those are crazy numbers (at any level) it doesn’t matter where you’re at. He’s just filling up the strike zone, competing, trusting his stuff, trusting me as a pitch caller and he’s having a sensational season.” 

Rodriguez called Tuesday’s start one of the most important outings on the schedule all season and was pleased with the way he performed for his team and fellow seniors, as well as his family watching in the stands. 

“I just trust the guys behind me,” he said. “I knew they were going to have my back the whole game.” 

Rodriguez executed his plan to perfection, the only blemish coming in the top of the first when after striking out the first two hitters, he allowed a double and single consecutively that scored a run. He responded by striking out the next South Fort Myers (10-10) hitter. After the first inning, Rodriguez retired 16 of the next 19 batters before giving way to senior Noah Petrovich who closed the door.

Island Coast senior Demetrius McCants drove in three runs in the Gators' 8-2 win over South Fort Myers Tuesday night. To view more photos from the game, see the Cape Coral Breeze Facebook page. MICHAEL PISTELLA mpistella@breezenewspapers.com

Rodriguez has found no shortage of success this year on the mound and was perfect against Ida Baker earlier this year.

“Always attack – try to get three pitches across for strikes – whether it be fastball, changeup, curveball, always try to pound the strike zone,” Rodriguez said of his mentality.

The Gators nearly tied the game in the bottom half of the first on a Jake Mueller double to right-center, but a great relay by South caught Jason Santagate (running for AJ Finco) at the plate.

Dylan Masters led off the home half of the third with a single and came around on a Finco RBI double. After South intentionally walked Mueller, Emilio Gonzalez brought home two on a single to give the Gators a 3-1 lead.

Island Coast then extended its advantage in the fifth as the first five batters reached base. The inning including a two-RBI double for senior Demetrius McCants and RBI single from senior Aiden Cecil. McCants added another RBI to his night when he drew a walk which scored a run in the sixth.

All four Island Coast seniors played a role in the victory.

“Every senior night is different, but this one was a special one because we have three four-year guys that have been here from the beginning, and (Demetrius) is a transfer from Georgia, and he’s done everything we can ask of him,” Montgomery. “To see all of those guys contribute tonight was a special ending to what they’ve brought here to our program.” 

This makes five-straight wins for the Gators, who have three games remaining on their schedule before District play and are currently the No. 2 seed behind Fort Myers. Montgomery was encouraged with the way his team executed each facet of the game well heading down the stretch.  

“I thought we played a pretty complete game,” Montgomery said. “There were some situations where we had runners in scoring position that we didn’t execute. Come playoff time, if we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, we’ll need to get those runs in when we get in those spots with less than one out. But for the most part we played a good game.” 

 

— Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj