SPRING HILL — After a gripping championship game in last season’s Class 5A, District 7 final, the programs involved seemed in a rush to get to a rematch.
Springstead and Forest got their wish after dispatching their semifinal opponents Tuesday by identical 12-2 scores in five innings.
In the early game, Forest (22-4) scored five runs in the opening inning off Central starter Vince Owens and never looked back.
Wildcats starter Bryan Neal went the distance for a complete-game victory, striking out eight and walking only two in the two-hitter.
Forest coach Wayne Yancey made no secret of how he was approaching Thursday’s final before the second game.
“We have the last kid to beat Springstead (Richard Page) ready to go,” Yancey said. “He pitched against them up at our place, but we should score some runs regardless.”
Springstead (16-10) made the face-off official with the mercy-rule win over West Port (2-21).
After going deep twice in the first inning off Wolf Pack starter Alec Jewell, the Eagles cruised. Springstead scored all six runs in the frame on home runs. After the first two batters were retired, Julian Perez walked. Brandon Brosher then hit a two-run shot off the scoreboard in right-center, his seventh of the season.
A single, walk and hit by pitch loaded the bases for Bobby Pasarela. The Eagles pitcher hit his first home run of the season, a grand slam to left, to give him a comfortable lead on the mound.
He used that lead well, tossing a complete-game one-hitter with seven strikeouts and two walks. Pasarela seemed to only get better as the game went on, striking out the last five batters he faced.
“It’s take no prisoners out there at this point,” he said. “It’s happy and intense, and I can throw every pitch.”