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ZEPHYRHILLS — After one of his worst pitching performances of the season helped his team fall behind by seven early, Pasco star Trey Dudley-Giles hoped he’d get a chance to make up it.
He got two, and he capitalized on them both.
Dudley-Giles’ two-run single tied the game in the sixth, and his walkoff walk sent top-seeded Pasco to a 10-9 victory over Wesley Chapel in Wednesday’s Class 5A, District 8 semifinal.
“I’ll take it,” Dudley-Giles said.
And so will the Pirates, who advance to next week’s region tournament and Friday’s district championship against Ridgewood after the Rams’ 9-1 win over Hudson.
Pasco (17-7) needed Dudley-Giles’ heroics after a slow start, including a leadoff home run by Wesley Chapel’s Zach White. The Wildcats (14-11) tacked on two more runs in Dudley-Giles’ 1 2/3 innings thanks to five walks, a hit batter and an error.
“I had to make up for what I did on the mound,” said Dudley-Giles, a UMass football recruit.
Wesley Chapel extended its lead to 7-0 behind a two-run single by Keegan Tanner and a wild pitch in the fourth before Pasco finally recovered. A Wildcats error scored a run in the fourth, and Michael Wilson followed that with a three-run home run to leftfield to trim the deficit to 7-4.
Pasco trailed by two in the sixth when Dudley-Giles began his redemption with a game-tying single past the shortstop. But two Pirates throwing errors in the top of the seventh gave Wesley Chapel a 9-7 lead.
“It’s kind of how our season’s been,” Pasco interim coach Joe Neale said. “It’s been a roller coaster for us.”
And it had at least one more peak left.
The Pirates tied the game with a wild pitch and an RBI single by Jesse Pavek and loaded the bases for Dudley-Giles. The senior watched four balls whiz by him, ran to first base and chest-bumped a teammate on his way to join the celebration at home plate.
Ridgewood 9, Hudson 1
The Rams (13-10) scored three early runs and never looked back behind a dominant all-around game from Adam Arrowood.
The junior pitcher helped his team take a 3-0 lead with a two-run double off the leftfield wall in the first. His 4-for-4 performance ended with two more RBIs in the bottom of the sixth against the Cobras.
That was more than enough offense with Arrowood on the mound. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth before Tyler Holton’s RBI single ended the shutout. Arrowood struck out seven batters while walking three and hitting one.
“We just stuck through it,” Arrowood said.
5A-7: Leopards back in playoffs
Hernando knows it will be enjoying a third straight state playoff berth after the team’s Class 5A, District 7 semifinal victory.
Behind a gritty pitching performance from Brandon Lawson, the Leopards shut out host Crystal River 2-0 to advance to Friday’s championship game.
Hernando (16-9) had almost as much trouble with Pirates starter Charles Humphreys. The St. Johns River State College commit tossed a complete game in the loss. The Leopards did their only damage in the third inning.
Cody Gillis led off with a single, and Brandon Gemmiti walked. Florida commit Christian Arroyo drilled a double to the fence that scored Gillis, but Gemmiti was thrown out at home on a terrific relay. Arroyo, who advanced to third on the throw, scored on a sacrifice fly from Jake Johnson to account for the only runs.
Lawson took it from there, going the distance for the shutout, his second against Crystal River (15-9) this season. He scattered six hits, struck out six and didn’t surrender a walk.
“Brandon had solid defense behind him and made the pitch he needed to,” Hernando coach Tim Sims said. “He was focused and in rhythm. He dictated the pace of the game from the get-go.”
The victory advances Hernando to the title game for a chance at its third consecutive district crown. The Leopards will face Tavares after the Bulldogs upset Eustis 7-1.
Times correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report.