TRINITY — Land O’Lakes left no doubt Friday as to who’s the top team in Pasco County. The Gators rolled to a 14-4 win at Mitchell and are off to a school-record 11-0 start.
It was a competitive contest for a while. Mitchell took a 3-2 lead into the fifth inning but Land O’Lakes scored four runs in each of its last three at-bats.
“It got away from them a little,” said coach Calvin Baisley, whose Gators are in command in District 6A-10. “I don’t think there’s that much difference between us. I think we’re pretty evenly matched."
They were Feb. 22 when the Gators edged Mitchell 2-1. But with the same pitchers on the mound, Friday was a different story.
Zach Whitaker (5-0) threw three-hit ball across six innings along with a tidy 4-for-5, four-RBI night. Mitchell starter Cobi Johnson, who allowed four hits in the first meeting, gave up twice that many and was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Alex Reynolds was also a big factor with run-scoring hits in each of his first three at-bats. The sophomore came in with just one hit in his past four games.
“I was seeing the ball real well tonight against him and I just went with it,” he said.
Reynolds had a key hit in the fifth, a double that made it 3-3. After that Whitaker ended Johnson’s outing with a two-run double. He added RBI singles in his final two at-bats.
Land O’Lakes had 15 hits, five of them for extra bases, including triples by Dylan Harris (3-for-4) and Connor Stephens. Kyle Sheffield drove in three with his two-run double, bumping the margin to 10.
But earlier Mitchell (10-3) had the momentum when it took the lead with two runs in the third. Chris McCormick reached on a dropped third strike, Johnson singled and a wild pitch moved the runners. Eddie Goscicki’s deep sac fly tied it, and Marcus Begg’s second double put the Mustangs up 3-2.
“I didn’t pitch nearly as well as I did the first time against them,” said Whitaker, who struck out four compared with 11 in the previous meeting. “But I settled down as the game went on. That big inning allowed me to pitch easier.”