ZEPHYRHILLS — Before Friday’s Class 5A, District 7 championship game, Hernando’s Justin Young told his father he would hit a walk-off home run. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the strapping junior fulfilled that promise.
Young blasted a three-run homer over the right-centerfield fence to give the Leopards (23-4) a 16-6 win over Pasco via the mercy rule.
That dramatic shot came two nights after Brendan Litwinsky’s walk-off homer gave Hernando a 2-1 district semifinal win over Central.
“I knew that when Austin (Treverton) walked my first two strikes were going to be the ones I would try to put it out,” said Young, who started in rightfield and later came in as a reliever. “I was seeing the ball good. It feels great.”
Young’s blast was part of a six-run inning that put the game away. He also had a sacrifice fly in the Leopards’ six-run second and a two-run triple in the fifth for the first six RBI-game of his career.
Kyle Kilbourne hit a two-run homer and Tyler Allen had two run-scoring doubles and three runs in Hernando’s 12-hit attack.
Pasco (16-10) trailed 8-1 before scoring five unanswered runs. Corey Mills hit a run-scoring single in the fifth and scored on an infield error to pull the Pirates within three runs, but Hernando got two in the bottom of that inning on Young’s two-run triple.
The Pirates cut the deficit to 10-6 when Phillip Wilson drew a bases-loaded walk that plated Lane Stancil in the sixth. The game ended in the bottom of that inning on the Leopards’ scoring outburst.
The first of Wilson’s two RBIs came on a solo homer, his second of the season, in the second.
Hernando hosts 5A-8 runnerup Sunlake in Wednesday’s region quarterfinals, while Pasco visits Land O’Lakes.