SPRING HILL — Nic Pasarela had played baseball all his life without facing a situation like the one he encountered Thursday night.
Bases loaded. Tie game. One out. Two strikes in the bottom of the ninth against one of Tampa Bay’s top teams.
And Pasarela delivered the hit of a lifetime.
Springstead’s senior infielder blasted a shot to rightfield that fell to the ground to save senior night and give his Eagles a 3-2 walkoff, extra-innings victory against Land O’Lakes.
“Probably the greatest feeling in the world,” Pasarela said after his first walkoff hit at any level.
Springstead (13-6) needed his heroics after the Gators crawled back from an early deficit.
The Eagles jumped ahead in the first inning with a two-run single by Will Perdomo, but Land O’Lakes (17-4) trimmed the lead by scoring off of a wild pitch in the second. The Gators tied it in the top of the seventh after Springstead bobbled Dylan Harris’ hit, allowing Dylan Leonard to score.
The Eagles stranded two runners in the eighth but finally broke through in the ninth with a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. After Perdomo struck out, the Eagles turned to Pasarela.
“I couldn’t have a better bat up there in that situation. …” first-year coach Jim Diven said. “There’s a kid that isn’t going to give up.”
Pasarela fell behind with an early strike but showed the toughness he acquired as a 5-foot-5, 160-pound halfback for the Eagles’ district champion football team. He fouled off two pitches in a row to get another shot at his team’s biggest win of the season.
“I knew all we had to do was get a pop fly deep enough in the outfield,” Pasarela said. “I was just trying to get the job done.”
He knocked the next fastball high in the air to right. It barely dropped just in front of the Gators’ outfielder to bring home Kyle Cottilletta, snap Springstead’s three-game losing streak and give Pasarela a senior night memory he’ll never forget.
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.