DADE CITY — Lane Stancil didn’t need to pitch.
For the past 10 weeks, the Pasco junior had been content to start at shortstop, throw an occasional side session and make cameos from the bullpen — until Friday night.
“I just wanted the ball,” Stancil said.
In his first start in more than a month, Stancil soldiered through five solid innings to lead Pasco to a 6-2 home win over Wesley Chapel in the Class 5A, District 8 final.
The Pirates’ first district championship since 2009 gives Pasco (20-8) a home game in Thursday’s Class 5A region quarterfinal against Eustis. Wesley Chapel (19-8) will travel to Hernando after the Leopards’ 5-2 win over Eustis on Friday night.
Stancil has been a consistent talent but served as an unlikely hero Friday. He had thrown only six innings in the past 10 weeks before facing the Wildcats, who split the teams’ two regular-season games.
But in his third start of the year, Stancil allowed only two runs on five hits and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second.
“That was a gutsy performance,” Pasco coach Pat Fortunato said.
The Pirates’ offense made sure Stancil’s grit resulted in a win.
Pasco scored four runs in the second by taking advantage of three Wesley Chapel errors. Robbie Hanlon and Troy Rivera singled in runs, and Phillip Wilson swiped home on a double steal to give the Pirates a 4-1 lead.
That was enough cushion, even for a tired pitching staff.
Stancil allowed only one more run — a sacrifice fly by Kyle Custer — before his arm gave out one batter into the sixth inning.
“I just tried to fight through it,” Stancil said. “Luckily my teammates were behind me to help me out.”
Pasco added two insurance runs on another RBI single by Rivera and a double from Logan Johnson before turning the game over to another tired Pirate, Blaine Duncan.
Two days after allowing only two hits in a five-inning masterpiece against Fivay, Duncan cruised for the save. He struck out three batters — including the final one on a wicked curveball — to make sure Fortunato got a celebratory ice shower for claiming a district title in his first season as head coach.