BROOKSVILLE — Hernando survived a nerve-racking seventh inning to defeat Fivay 7-6 in the Farm Bureau Classic semifinals Thursday night. The Leopards took a three-run lead into the top of the seventh inning and looked to be in control with closer Anthony Urso on the mound.
But the inning started with an infield error and Fivay's Trey Duran reached on an infield singled to put runners on first and second. Avery Schaub then singled to load the bases with no outs.
Tyler Derner hit a grounder to second that forced an out, but drove in one run. Sal Zito hit a solid single to center that plated another run and made it 7-6 with one out.
Urso then got an infield flyout for the second out and walked Casey Schaub to load the bases again. On a 3-2 pitch, Urso broke off a curveball to J.J. Erazo that was called Strike 3 to end the game.
"You just have to calm yourself down and realize you have your teammates behind you for a reason," Urso said. "You just have to clear your mind and let them do the work. It was great to see that last strike. Now we get to go to the championship game."
Hernando (9-2) will host Land O'Lakes in the final Friday night at 7. The Gators defeated Mitchell 2-0 in the other semifinal.
Both teams matched each other in the first three innings. Fivay took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third when Thomas Delfel hit a two-run homer to rightfield.
Then the Leopards broke it open in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth they scored three runs, highlighted by an RBI double from Austin Galda. They scored two more in the fifth on an RBI single from Austin Legg and a wild pitch.
That made the score 7-3 before Fivay (9-5) began chipping away. The Falcons did have one wasted opportunity. They loaded the bases in the fifth inning with two outs but failed to score a run.
"That's two evenly matched teams tonight and that's what you get," Hernando coach Tim Sims said. "In that seventh inning, a pitcher that is all about himself would've gotten upset at the start of the inning. But Anthony didn't change. He bore down and picked his team up."
Connor Morgan led Hernando's nine-hit attack with a 4-for-4 night. Fivay got 10 hits. Derner had two doubles.