LAND O’ LAKES — Pasco pitcher Malik Johns remembers the last couple of times the Pirates matched up against their rivals from the north in Brooksville Hernando. The Leopards topped the Pirates in February and beat them soundly again March 11. This time around, however, Pasco had different plans drawn up. Johns was able to get key outs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, en route to a complete game and a 2-1 victory against Hernando on Thursday night at Sunlake High in the Pasco-Hernando Spring Break Classic tournament.
“I had a lot of confidence today,” Johns said. “I knew I was like the only pitcher left that we had, and I knew I had to come out here and throw a lot of strikes.
“My defense had my back no matter what.”
Johns pitched a strong game from start to finish, throwing 117 pitches and striking out eight Leopards in the process. Pasco (7-3) took advantage of miscues made by Hernando in the bottom of the first inning, as both of the Pirates’ runs in the game came off errors made in the infield.
The Leopards’ two errors were the only ones they committed all game, but they proved costly in the end.
Hernando (13-2) had multiple opportunities to tie the game or even take the lead and could not cash in. Johns walked Kyle Kilbourne to load the bases, but was able to strike out Andres Cabrera to end the threat.
The Leopards threatened again in the sixth inning and came up empty once more. Pasco only had five hits against Hernando’s Daniel Miller and Brad Ellis, whom combined to pitch the six innings.
“I knew if I was feeling it, I was going to go the whole game,” Johns added. “I wasn’t actually going to pitch this game, but coach asked me and I said ‘Yeah, I want to throw.’ I’m a senior, so I’d rather it be in my hands than anybody else’s.”
McKenna turns out lights on Springstead
BROOKSVILLE — Central southpaw Trevor McKenna pitched a complete-game, 83-pitch, three-hit shutout Thursday night in the third round of the Pasco Hernando Farm Bureau Insurance Baseball Classic against archrival Springstead at Bear Park, 3-0.
The Bears’ sixth straight win permits Central (11-5) to host Friday night’s final against Pasco.
The Pirates squeaked past Hernando, 2-1, at Sunlake to earn the title-game berth.
McKenna, a Flagler College signee, climbed to 5-1, scattering three singles and three walks against five strikeouts.
The game’s only offense was generated with a four-run third inning off Eagle sophomore southpaw Noah Siem.
Siem (0-1) wild-pitched home one run and was victimized by a two-run double by Thomas Sorrentino and an ensuing RBI single by Scott Dwyer.
The game was halted for 32 minutes in the bottom of the fourth when two light poles went dead.
In the early game, Wiregrass Ranch walked away with its second tourney win by topping Bishop McLaughlin, 8-4.