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SPRING HILL — Springstead won its first district title in style Thursday night when it used three solo home runs to catapult itself to victory in the Class 5A, District 7 final.
Along with the championship trophy, the Eagles’ 5-4 extra innings’ win over Forest also accomplished something else — revenge over their rivals.
After losing last year to the Wildcats in the final, Springstead suffered through some turmoil. The team was labeled an all-star roster by some at the time, but after transfers, many wondered how they would recover.
With four fewer regular-season wins, the Eagles (17-10) hit their stride in this tournament. On the other hand, Forest (22-5) seemed primed for the challenge, despite splitting two meetings with Springstead in the regular season.
A leadoff bomb off the bat of the Wildcats’ Alec Mazzurco showed that. On the fourth pitch from Springstead starter J.R. Wright, Mazzurco hit the ball to dead center over the tall fence, but that was only the beginning of the night’s fireworks.
“In all my years coaching here, I’ve only seen two balls hit over the fence in centerfield,” Springstead coach Frank Vitale said. “That’s a shot.”
After Springstead scratched out two runs in the second, Forest answered with another three-run homer from Danny Timmons in the bottom half of the inning. From there, things settled down into a pitchers’ duel.
Forest ace Ricky Page tossed six innings, striking out 11, while Wright went seven, punching out nine and retiring 11 in a row at one point.
Entering the top of the sixth, Springstead was still down 4-2 and having issues making contact off Page, let alone scoring. Seemingly out of nowhere, nine-hole hitter Nic Pasarela pulled a home run over the leftfield fence.
Page was relieved by Alex Carrasco in the seventh and brought the Wildcats one pitch away from the crown. With a full count and two outs to Brandon Brosher, the Eagles’ cleanup hitter drilled a towering fly ball to right-center to tie. Jimmy Diven hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth.
“I knew a home run would tie it, so I was real excited,” Brosher said. “I was looking fastball, but it was a hanging curveball, and I just adjusted.”
Brosher then came in to shut the door for the save, striking out two in his lone inning of work.
“It all seemed like a blur,” Vitale said. “We never gave up. It was amazing.”