The game got away after a third strike got away.
The Lemon Bay Manta Rays won the District 5A-13 softball championship Thursday night, defeating Mariner 4-2 in a rain-delayed contest at North Fort Myers High.
Lemon Bay's winning rally began when strike three on Summer Jones got away, rolling behind the home plate umpire. Jones was safe at first. One out later, Kacyn Shirley reached first on an infield hit before Brooke Clemens doubled, driving in both runners. Clemens wound up at third after the ball got away in the outfield but Mariner got out of the inning with no more harm done.
"We hurt ourselves a little bit," Tritons coach Donna Coleman said. "But they made some errors too. These are not ideal conditions to play in. We made mental mistakes, but for me and this team, they've come a long way and I'm pleased with where we've come from where we started."
Lemon Bay (20-2) opens regional play Wednesday at home against Lehigh while Mariner (13-11) travels to Golden Gate Wednesday.
"They gave us opportunities, we gave them opportunities," Lemon Bay coach Kim Pinkham said. "We've got work to do before we start region."
Thursday's contest was made up of two very different games. The first inning and a half saw four runs scored, two by each team.
Mariner took a lead in the top of the first when Heather Gillions tripled home Taylor Henderson. Lemon Bay answered with Heather Ruhl's two-run single.
Brittany Jones tied it for Mariner in the top of the second, racing home from third on a throw to second base trying to get Henderson.
Then rain held up the game for 40 minutes.
That may have been a break for the Manta Rays, who arrived at Bobbie Dewey Field too late to take infield.
"That gave us the warm-up that we didn't get," Pinkham said. "They told us we were too late to take the field for pregame warm-up, which is a first. That's never happened before. That caught us off guard, I'm not sure why, but we came back out and it was a 0-0 ballgame as far as we were concerned."
Once play resumed, the teams took turns getting into and out of trouble - except in the bottom of the fourth, when Lemon Bay cashed in what proved to be the game-winning runs.
Mariner stranded runners at third base in the third and fourth innings, and had a potential seventh-inning rally cut short when Holiday was out at third in a rundown. Lemon Bay, meanwhile, left runners at third in three different innings.
"We hit the ball against this team," Coleman said. "This is a very good team. I've got to give them credit. They're good. We knew that coming in. We played them tough tonight. It could have gone either way had we not had that one inning.
"We made some mistakes that cost us. And all the little things seemed to go their way, but that's the game. That's the nature of the game."
Mariner 110 000 0 - 2 8 4
Lemon Bay 200 200 x - 4 8 3
W - Carvey. L - Langdale.
2B - Hunter Mars (LB), Brooke Clemens. 3B - Heather Gillions (M).