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WESLEY CHAPEL — It took six innings for Land O’Lakes’ vaunted offense to make an appearance against Fivay in the Pasco County Varsity Baseball Tournament.
But once the Gators’ bats ignited, it was game over for the upstart Falcons.
Land O’Lakes spotted Fivay a late 6-3 lead Monday, then exploded for eight runs in the top of the sixth inning in a 14-8 victory.
The Gators will face host Wesley Chapel at 7 p.m. in Tuesday’s semifinal.
“They battled,” Land O’Lakes coach Calvin Baisley said. “They don’t give up; it doesn’t matter how many runs we’re down. Sometimes I think we’re better when we’re down, if that makes sense. … Maybe I’ll just tell them the score’s 2-0 when we start.”
Trailing 6-3 entering the sixth inning, Land O’Lakes (9-2) loaded the bases to chase Fivay starter A.J. Suriano.
With one swing, Land O’Lakes first baseman Pat Soril changed the complexion of the game. He drove a double to the wall in leftfield to clear the bases and tie the score.
“That double just woke us up,” Baisley said. “Everything changed after that. That was a huge hit for us.”
Two batters later, Zack Whitaker put the Gators ahead for good with an RBI single. David Perez made it 9-6 with a base hit that scored two runs, and Steven Rosario finished off the sixth-inning explosion with a two-run double to rightfield.
Fivay cut the lead to three in the bottom half of the inning on a two-RBI double from Kevin Faulkner, but the Gators added two insurance runs in the seventh on RBI base hits from Whitaker and Gino Pepenella, and reliever D.J. Krouse got through the bottom half unscathed.
“Sometimes they come with fire in their eyes and sometimes they don’t,” Baisley said about his team’s up-and-down performance. “It’s frustrating.”
Fivay (4-5) fell behind 3-0 before clawing back. In the fourth, Faulkner hit a home run to leftfield for the Falcons’ first run. A Gators error later in the inning scored Fivay’s second run.
In the fifth, the Falcons tied the game on a single by Faulkner, who was 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Suriano put Fivay ahead with an RBI single, R.J. Hampshire drew a bases-loaded walk and Ronnie Aldrich made it 6-3 Falcons with an RBI force out.
“I think this is great experience for our guys,” Fivay coach Justin Kunick said. “They now know they can play with anybody in the county, let alone our district.”
Consolation bracket results
In his first high school start, Wesley Chapel’s Chase Ingram scattered five hits and struck out five in a complete-game performance.
Ingram threw 66 pitches and didn’t allow a walk to defeat Central (4-7) 10-0 in six innings.
Wesley Chapel (10-0) broke open the game with four runs in the third inning for a 5-0 lead. The Wildcats scored three more in the fifth, highlighted by Geoff DeGroot’s double to get things started. He finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored.
Springstead starting pitcher Brandon Brosher struck out six over five innings in a complete-game victory over Zephyrhills (4-6).
Brosher allowed only three hits in a 12-1, five-inning victory.
Trey Scott went 3-for-4 for Springstead (7-5), which scored seven runs in the second inning.
Tuesday’s schedule at Wesley Chapel
Hudson vs. Central, 1 p.m.
Ridgewood vs. Springstead, 4 p.m.
Wesley Chapel vs. Land O’Lakes, 7 p.m.