LAND O’LAKES — Pasco pitcher Brian Johnson refused to look at the scoreboard with runners in scoring position and one out in the sixth against Sunlake on Wednesday.
It didn’t matter to Johnson that the Pirates were clinging to a one-run lead, or that it was his first start of the season. The senior just stared straight ahead at his catcher, Turner Imhoff, and waited for his signs.
After working the count full against Dylan Schultz, Johnson struck out the sophomore swinging. Then, just three pitches later, he retired David Castillo on a grounder to get out of the jam.
Pasco knocked off the Seahawks 5-4 in the second round of the Pasco-Hernando Classic and advanced to a semifinal against Hernando at 7 tonight.
Johnson, who yielded 11 hits with one walk and two strikeouts in six innings, said it wasn’t hard to keep his composure.
“Just take a deep breath and hit the strike zone,” he said. “It’s what you’ve got to do. Can’t put nobody else on. Can’t let that run score. Just tough through it.”
The Pirates (6-3) fell behind as Sunlake (8-4) strung together four straight hits in the third and a steal of home by John Eales to take a 4-0 lead.
But Pasco cut the deficit to two in the fourth as Phillip Wilson hit an RBI double off Seahawks starter Ryan Talburt and Sam Newlon singled Wilson home one batter later.
In the fifth, Talburt walked Wilson with the bases loaded to score a run and Sunlake shortstop Colton King misplayed a grounder for two more to complete the Pirates’ comeback.
“We’re not flashy,” Pasco coach Pat Fortunato said. “We were down 4-0 and we stayed in it. (Sunlake’s) a very good team.”
Earlier, Pasco routed Ridgewood 11-0 in five innings.