NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge edged Land O'Lakes 8-7 Friday night as Devon Woodward scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Rocco Iervasi's slicing hit.
Iervasi, already in his fourth inning of relief, had confidence as he stepped up to the plate with Woodward at second base.
"I just knew I was going to get a hit, I was looking to drive one the other way but I was going to get Woody (Woodward) in any way I could," Iervasi said.
Iervasi sliced one to left.
"When the ball was hit, I thought it was going to be caught, that's just the kind of night it had been," Royal Knights coach Jack Homko said.
But it sliced away from Gators leftfielder Ben Moultrie, who reached safely in all four of his at bats. He could not quite track it down and Woodward made it home for the winning run for River Ridge (8-3).
The Gators (6-5) lost a 7-3 battle to River Ridge at home in February and had aims at evening the score.
The Gators dug out of a 4-1 hole after the first inning and a two-run shot to left-center by Woodward. They got three in the top of the second and two more in the top fourth.
Then the scoring slowed as relievers came in. River Ridge tied it in the sixth as Jason Heinrich singled to left. Then the Gators pulled one of their two sparkling defensive plays when shortstop Logan Henderson made a long throw to first baseman Kyle Sheffield who scooped it out of the dirt, with the bases loaded, to keep it 6-6.
The Gators went to the well again in the seventh as centerfielder Connor Stephens cut a run down at the plate to keep it 7-7.
"To be honest it was," Homko said when asked if he found the Land O'Lakes defense frustrating. I needed Rolaids for this one."
"We were just getting pumped (when Land O'Lakes kept making defensive stops)," said Iervasi, who got a water cooler bath after the game. "We knew we'd have another chance and we just executed."