WESLEY CHAPEL — Mitchell has put its offensive struggles and chemistry concerns behind it. The proof came Thursday night in the semifinals of the Pasco County Spring Break Tourney.
The Mustangs produced a pair of three-run innings against one of the county's top pitchers to knock off Land O'Lakes 8-5.
"It seems like we've been this close to getting going, getting going," Mustangs coach Scot Wilcox said.
The runs came slowly at first Thursday.
The Gators' Brad Hencke allowed no hits through two innings, and Patrick Soril's RBI single off of P.J. Dejesus put Land O'Lakes (14-5) ahead in the third. Mitchell (12-7) answered when Hencke left a pitch high and junior Eddie Goscicki blasted a single to rightfield.
The Gators took a 4-1 lead in the fourth on Cameron Hilgenberg's RBI double, a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Miller and a wild pitch.
The Mustangs had scored only two runs in their two previous losses to Hencke and the Gators, so they figured a comeback would be tough against the University of Tampa-bound lefty.
"We're thinking if they keep playing defense like this and we're not hitting, we're not going to win here and get to the championship," Mitchell's Blaize Grabowski said.
But the Mustangs answered again.
Back-to-back singles by Blake Hart and Grabowski jump-started a rally. Josh Lamb's grounder brought home one run, and two of the Gators' four errors tied the score. Mitchell pulled ahead in the next inning when Grabowski ripped an RBI double off the leftfield wall.
"I just got on it and rocked it," said Grabowski, who finished 2-for-4.
The Mustangs rocked Land O'Lakes for three more runs in the sixth thanks to two wild pitches and an RBI from Hart to cruise into tonight's title game against Wiregrass Ranch.
The win also validated Mitchell's turnaround from an 0-4 start and avenged its two previous losses to the Gators. Grabowski said his team has overcome chemistry issues that plagued it early, and Thursday's scoring showed its offense has rebounded, too.
"I've got to hand it to our guys," Wilcox said. "They came ready to finish the game."
And they have one more to finish before becoming county champions.
Times staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected]