DADE CITY -
Brad Hencke struck out 11, giving up three runs and six hits in a complete game as Land O' Lakes crushed Pasco on Wednesday night, 12-3.
Gino Pepenella and David Perez each homered and had three RBIs for the Gators (18-6) in the contest.
"When I looked at the wind today I thought that there would be some balls flying out of here. I just hoped we would be the ones hitting them," Land O' Lakes coach Calvin Baisley said.
The Gators jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, after Pepenella smashed his sixth home run of the season.
They then erupted for seven more runs in the second. Hencke and Pat Soril started the inning with consecutive singles before Tommy Cook reached on a throwing error by Pirates starting pitcher Blaine Duncan. The error plated Hencke, took out the possibility of a double play and prompted Pasco coach Ricky Giles to replace Duncan with Jesse Pavek.
Pavek didn't fare much better in the frame. He walked the first batter he faced, Trae Urban, before throwing a wild pitch that scored Soril. Pavek then walked Dylan Harris to reload the bases and walked David Perez to drive in Cook. A groundout from Pepenella drove in Urban, then Rosario doubled in Harris and Perez before Hencke singled in Rosario to give Land O' Lakes a commanding 9-0 lead.
Hencke, who went 2-for-4 in the contest, was perfect through the first three innings before running into trouble in the fourth.
The first four hitters that Pasco (10-12) sent to the plate in the fourth singled, with Trey Dudley-Giles scoring on a wild pitch and Tyler Brock knocking in Malik Johns and Cole Stancil as the Pirates cut the deficit to 9-3.
Hencke rediscovered his command, getting Derrick Dious to ground into a double play and striking out Logan Johnson to end the threat. Hencke (4-0) allowed only two more hits the rest of the way, cruising to his third complete game of the season.
The Gators scored three runs in the sixth, off a two-run homer from Perez and an RBI double from Trey McNickle, for the winning margin.
The victory at Pasco on was the third in a row for the Gators and came a day after Land O' Lakes went into Wesley Chapel and handed the Wildcats just their second loss of the season. Wesley Chapel (23-2), thought by many in the area to be Pasco County's best team, was manhandled by a Land O' Lakes team that may be hitting its stride as the season winds down.
"That's been our goal. We had a rough week last week. We didn't really play well and lost to a couple of games to good teams (Hernando and Mitchell), but his week is all about gaining some momentum (for the playoffs)," Baisley said. "We played an all-around game tonight. We pitched well, we played good defense, and we hit the ball. We were very solid tonight. This is the right time of the year to be playing like this."
LOL2700030-12120 Pasco0003000- 3 62
W- Hencke (4-0). L-Duncan. 2B- Rosario, Pepenella, McNickle (L). HR- Pepenella, Perez (L). Records - Land O' Lakes 18-6, Pasco 10-12.