LAND O’ LAKES — Pasco High needed just five hours to grab two wins and advance into the Pasco-Hernando Baseball Classic semifinals, where it will face Brooksville Hernando at 7 Thursday night.
The Pirates (6-3) rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Sunlake 5-4 after mercy-ruling Ridgewood 11-0 earlier in the day.
Both games featured good pitching performances, first from Grant Starling (five innings, two hits, two strikeouts) and later by Brian Johnson, who made his first start of the season.
Johnson gave up four runs but shut down Sunlake in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, including getting out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth.
“Wish I hadn’t given up the four runs that way, but it happens and I just pitched to contact,” Johnson said.
Ty Cross closed for the save that included a 5-3 double play turned by Malik Johns on a line drive.
Pasco scored two runs in the fourth, including an RBI double by Phillip Wilson, and three in the fifth en route to victory.
– Mike Camunas
Hernando blanks Land O’ Lakes, 3-0
BROOKSVILLE — A day after Land O’ Lakes batters ripped Nature Coast Technical for 10 hits, it was a different story in the Pasco-Hernando Baseball Classic at Hernando High.
Behind an air-tight defense that converted 28 chances without a miscue, Hernando senior right-hander Kyle Kilbourne twirled a complete-game three-hit shutout against Land O’ Lakes, 3-0.
Kilbourne (5-0) faced 24 batters, three over the minimum, permitting only Liam Heaney’s double in the second and seventh-inning singles by Alex Reynolds and Max Law.
Despite the two hits, Kilbourne enticed a pitcher’s best friend — a 6-4-3 double play — before recording his 10th strikeout to end the game.
Before Reynolds’ single to center to open the seventh, Kilbourne had retired 11 batters in a row.
In Wednesday’s other game at Emerson Field, NCT earned its first tourney win behind Vito Tambasco Jr.’s late two-run homer to seal a 7-2 win over Fivay.
– Tony Castro