ZEPHYRHILLS — On Zephyrhills’ senior night, when the Bulldogs honored lone senior and four-year varsity starter Lauren Pasquale, the matchup against Gulf was in doubt in the bottom of the fifth inning Friday when a transformer blew and the lights went out.
Thirty minutes later, the lights were restored but the outage seemed to have slipped into the bats of the Buccaneers and the Bulldogs, as the teams combined for three hits from the sixth inning until the top of the 10th. Gulf’s underclassmen stepped up and notched two hits off Pasquale in the 10th and the Buccaneers slipped away with a 3-2 victory.
“Based on that score, the power outage was in my dugout,” Gulf coach Rick Hohenthaner said. “I talked before the game about setting the tone and the tempo. To struggle through nine innings to score runs is really tough when you have districts right around the corner. I’ve got to give credit though, with bringing in a freshman to close the game and (being) strong enough to hold off their rally.”
Both starters, Gulf’s Rachel Enerson (three strikeouts) and Pasquale (three strikeouts) pitched gems through the first seven innings, with the Buccaneers turning to freshman Madison Morlan (four strikeouts) to pitch the final three frames.
Zephyrhills (11-13) posed a scoring threat in the bottom of the eighth, as Pasquale launched a double to centerfield, but couldn’t cash in.
Gulf (14-11) got going in the 10th on a single by freshman Bernie Anderson, and later in the inning Anderson and Tarra Rice scored on an error by leftfielder Brittni Whitworth to give the Buccaneers a 3-1 lead. Morlan allowed a run in the bottom of the inning, but first baseman Rachel Gardner threw out Marissa Gocenhouer at home to end the game.