LAND O’ LAKES — Sunlake High coach Dick Rohrberg knows his team is talented.
But Rohrberg doesn’t want to be a coach that’s always serious, that can’t find a balance for his young players to still have fun while playing baseball.
Rohrberg just wants his Seahawks (9-4) to remember to close out games, especially when he sees a 5-2 lead slip away in the top of the seventh, as it did while playing Wesley Chapel on Tuesday in the Farmers’ Bureau Pasco-Hernando Baseball Classic. Sunlake eventually won 6-5 with a walk-off RBI single by Omar Cala, but he wants the team to mentally finish games.
“I actually want to be less strict,” Rohrberg said. “You have late mental errors and there’s too much laughing and joking on the bench when we’re winning a game and its not over yet. We just need to be more consistent the whole game.”
Sunlake already has had its fair shares of ups this season, including a no-hitter by senior David Castillo and leading the Class 5A-District 8 standings with wins against River Ridge, Fivay and Land O’ Lakes. But Rohrberg once again saw how his team can let games slip away, as it did against Pasco on Wednesday.
Sunlake had a 4-0 lead, but the Pirates rallied to win 5-4 despite solid pitching from Ryan Talburt (2-1) and three RBIs over two games from Cala. Sunlake also has a tough stretch next week, facing Mitchell and Wiregrass only two days apart.
Pasco’s grit almost there
Second-year Pasco coach Pat Fortunato knows his team won’t give up. He saw that in Pasco’s rally to defeat Sunlake 5-4 on Wednesday, giving the Pirates (6-3) a semifinal game with district nemesis Brooksville Hernando (13-1) on Thursday in the PHBC.
“I think we just have a lot of guys stepping up for us this year,” Fortunato said. “We don’t always have everyone because of injuries or people are away, but if we’re down, we’re not going to give up.”
The Pirates are already missing senior standout and Saint Leo commit Lane Stancil, who hasn’t played yet this season due to an knee injury suffered during the football postseason. However, players like Grant Starling, Brian Johnson and Sam Newlon have stepped in and filled roles that have impressed Fortunato. Despite heavy-handed losses to Brooksville Nature Coast (13-12) and Hernando (10-4), Pasco still defeated Central (6-2), and Fortunato feels the team will get stronger down the stretch into the district tourney.
“We’re not quite there yet — the defense can still be mistake-prone,” Fortunato added. “But I think we can be tough later on when the time comes.”
Mitchell’s Cobi Johnson was 3-for-3 against Bishop McLaughlin on Tuesday. … Land O’ Lakes’ Liam Heaney drove in three against Nature Coast on Tuesday. … Fivay P Sean Fluke suffered his first loss Tuesday, a 7-0 defeat to Hernando in which he allowed five earned runs, including a grand slam, but also struck out eight. … Pasco P Grant Starling needed 73 pitches against Ridgewood for the win. … Pasco’s Robbie Hanlon and Turner Imhoff had two RBIs apiece vs. Ridgewood on Wednesday.
Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.