DADE CITY — A homecoming of sorts was suspended due to darkness.
Ricky Giles, the longtime Pasco High baseball fixture, faced his former team for the first time Tuesday afternoon.
However, the longstanding 9-Mile War between Pasco and Zephyrhills was shortened because the lights on the Pirates’ field aren’t functioning.
With a 1-2 count and one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Pasco led Zephyrhills 9-5. The game will resume March 28, when the Pirates visit the Bulldogs for the season’s second regular-season meeting.
“It is what it is — the lights are old and we’re hoping they’ll be fixed by Friday,” Pasco coach Pat Fortunato said. “There’s not much else we can do, but I thought we played well. We just have to throw strikes because our defense is pretty good.”
Giles faced Pasco, which he coached for 17 years, for the first time since resigning in 2012. He was hired to rebuild the struggling Bulldogs after the 2013 season.
“We’re young — we’re going to have mistakes. But we have to limit them,” Giles said. “They have to play the game, not let the game play them. We’re building back because they were wounded and we’re working our way back.”
The Pirates (2-1) built a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second behind Robbie Hanlon and Turner Imhoff, who had three RBIs, including two on a triple in the fourth.
The Bulldogs (2-3) came back and scored four in the top of the third, but Pasco took control behind solid pitching performances from Corey Mills and Ty Cross.
Zephyrhills has already shown signs of improvement after going 17-32 the previous two seasons.
“Ricky has been around a long time, has been doing this, coaching, a long time,” Fortunato said. “You can see what happens when you let his teams get back in it. I have absolutely nothing to say but good things about Ricky Giles.”
Being at Zephyrhills feels like coming home again for Giles.
“I was born a Bulldog. My son (Reggie Roberts) is the football coach, my grandson is playing baseball. I’m home again,” said Giles, a Zephyrhills alum. “Everyone there has done everything to make me feel right at home.”