TARPON SPRINGS — The Feb. 21 meeting between Land O’Lakes and Tarpon Springs featured a pitcher’s duel centered around Gators ace Brad Hencke and the Spongers’ Michael Dunnigan. Both defenses played extraordinarily well that evening, but Land O’Lakes’ offense did just enough to earn a 1-0 victory in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Fast forward four weeks.
The rematch between the top teams in Class 6A, District 10 was nearly identical, except the roles were reversed thanks to a two-out, walkoff shot by Tarpon’s Anthony Barisa in the bottom of the seventh, ending in a 1-0 Spongers victory Tuesday night.
“Right before Bariso’s at-bat, I say to (Land O’Lakes coach Calvin) Baisley, ‘What do you think? 14 or 15 innings this time?’ ” Tarpon coach Dickie Hart said.
Tarpon Springs (8-3, 4-1) had an opportunity to take the lead in the first inning with runners at the corners and one out. Caleb Koulianos hit the ball straight to shortstop Zachary Whitaker, who turned a 6-4-3 double play.
Land O’Lakes (8-3, 3-2) then had a chance in the third, with one out and runners in scoring position. Dunnigan caught Josh Nissen looking and Patrick Soril swinging to get out of the jam.
“Dunnigan’s always around the plate and he’s always throwing strikes and he always gets ahead,” Hart said. “He gives you a chance and he competes.”
Both pitchers were cruising until Barisa’s bomb to leftfield in the seventh.
“I’ve been slumping lately, and I was looking for a fastball to drive,” Barisa said. “(Hencke) threw me a fastball up and I took advantage of it.”
Dunnigan (3-1) finished with eight strikeouts and no walks on 90 pitches while Hencke (3-1) gave up his first run of the season.
“We need to work on our offense, and we need to look at this game,” Baisley said. “Tarpon’s a good team, and as long as those two guys are on the mound, it’ll always be closely contested.”