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NEW PORT RICHEY — Cobi Johnson had struck out 10 batters in four innings, and all he had to show for it was a 1-0 deficit.
So Johnson took matters into his own hands. His two-out single tied the game and Mitchell went on to a 6-1 win over River Ridge.
Johnson and River Ridge’s Tyler Hawks entered with sub-1.00 ERAs.
“He was pitching well and I knew that was a clutch situation,” Johnson said. “I stayed back and sat on the fastball. We got some good at-bats that inning and finally got to him.”
The junior picked up his third win of the season and struck out 12. Mitchell (8-2) avoided falling into a tie for second in District 6A-10.
Alex Mendez got the fifth-inning jumpstarted with a double that snuck down the third-base line. He went to third on an errant pickoff try. With two out Chris McCormick walked, giving Johnson the chance to come through and he went opposite field to make it 1-1.
Eddie Goscicki had the winning hit with another solid single. Mitchell scored twice in each of the last two innings, with Josh Lamb’s two-run single chasing Hawks and Marcus Begg’s two-run homer capping off the night.
River Ridge (5-4) got an unearned run off Johnson in the third. Harrison Keslar’s well-struck ball was dropped at the warning track, and Mike Unger’s single put runners at second and third. Johnson let loose a wild pitch to put the Knights ahead.
Even before that Mitchell coach Scot Wilcox managed as though it would be a 1-0 or similar final, having Begg steal after leading off the second with a single, and having Mendez bunt after a leadoff walk in the third.
“We play small ball until we don’t have to,” Wilcox said. “The way Hawks was throwing, it was just about getting that one big hit and we finally did.”
All the strikeouts served to run up Johnson’s pitch count (81) so JV callup Brian Hloska was asked to finish the job. The big freshman allowed his first two batters to reach then retired the next six for the save.
The defeat capped off a wild three days for River Ridge. On Wednesday the Knights led 2-0 in the fourth at Wesley Chapel only to be defeated via the mercy rule in five. Thursday night Christian Northrup threw a sneaky no-hitter, walking four against Central.
Because the Bears had so many baserunners not everyone in the crowd realized Northrup had the no-no.