ZEPHYRHILLS — His cold, wayward stare betrayed frustration. For seemingly the umpteenth time in the last half-decade, Zephyrhills coach Bruce Cimorelli had just seen his team scrap hard — and swing harder — against rival Pasco, only to fall short.
"We don't have an answer for Ricky Giles and Pasco," Cimorelli said. "We always come up short."
Friday night, before a Clements Field throng of roughly 300, the Bulldogs didn't so much come up short as the Pirates came up long. Very long.
In a clutch display of its offensive potency, Pasco (8-1) got a seventh-inning home run from senior Jake Schrader and a two-run blast from junior Travis Minton — his first at the varsity level — to pull out an intense 8-5 triumph.
Zephyrhills (7-3) had tied the score at 5-all in the bottom of the sixth on junior Tyler Guy's second homer of the night, and sophomore pinch-hitter Devin Rogers' two-out, two-run blast to left-center.
Emotionally, "we were up (entering the seventh)," Minton said. "Everybody wanted to win the game; there was no way we were going to let them (win).
"We have more heart than they do, I believe, and we go after what we want."
The late power surge was preceded by a pitching duel between Guy (42/3 innings, six strikeouts, three walks, five hits) and Pirates junior right-hander Chris Dious (52/3 innings, six hits, eight strikeouts, two walks).
Facing a Pirates lineup that entered with a .369 team batting average, Guy retired the first seven batters, fanning four.
He had a 2-1 lead entering the fifth when he allowed consecutive two-out singles to Cole Stancil and Schrader before catcher Jorge Jaramillo sent a 1-2 pitch over the leftfield wall. Pasco took a 5-2 lead on Trejon Smith's sixth-inning blast off left-handed reliever Cole Miraglia.
Dious, meantime, mostly coasted through the first five innings save for Guy's home run in the first and an unearned Bulldogs run in the third. After Rogers' homer, he was relieved by junior Brennan Allen, who got out of the sixth then forced a game-ending double play to Miraglia, the cleanup hitter.
Aside from Guy, the top four hitters in Zephyrhills' lineup combined for one hit.
"They come up with the big hits and we don't," Cimorelli said. "Every time we play Pasco, that always happens to us."