WESLEY CHAPEL — When coaches reflect on moments in a season, it's wins like this one they consider the turning point.
Somehow, Mitchell cashed in on the plays that mattered Tuesday for a 3-2 win at Wesley Chapel.
For a youthful Mitchell roster, knocking off arguably one of Pasco County's best teams on its homefield was just part of growing up.
The Mustangs (9-3) overcame four errors, eked out four hits and withstood a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning en route to their sixth straight victory. They did it with sophomore pitcher Garret Kriston, a kid who began the season on JV before a promotion after a preseason scrimmage.
Now three teams have one loss in Class 4A, District 7, the other being Pasco.
Mitchell coach Scot Wilcox said he had no plans to replace Kriston heading into the seventh, words backed up by a deserted bullpen.
Kriston seized the moment, forcing out Wesley Chapel's third, fourth and fifth batters to end the game.
"I wasn't sure if he was quite ready," Wilcox said of Kriston's rise to varsity. "We got to the point where we needed a kid who could throw strikes and command all of his pitches. He's done that every single outing we put him out there."
Kriston finished with three strikeouts after 95 pitches thrown. He allowed seven hits and walked two batters with one earned run for his third victory.
And when it came to facing the Wildcats' top batters in Cole Miraglia, Justin Frost and Brandon Mumaw in the seventh, he didn't flinch.
"I was feeling pretty confident," Kriston said. "I was pretending that never happened … like the game just started."
Mitchell took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, after Cody Vandeboe walked, stole two bases then scored on a fielder's choice.
Wesley Chapel (10-2) went ahead 2-1 after a Geoff DeGroot double scored Robert Dumas.
Mitchell went ahead for good on a single by Steve Brown to score Jordan Dietsch in the fifth inning to go ahead 3-2.
Miraglia, the Wildcats' ace, finished with five strikeouts, four hits and three walks in six innings with scouts from Saint Leo and Central Florida Community College in attendance.
Wesley Chapel provided little offensive help, stranding five runners in scoring position.
"Those times … we're popping up instead of hitting it at people on the ground," Wesley Chapel coach Chuck Yingling said. "If we execute any of those we probably have five or six runs tonight.
"We had our opportunities. It's a learning experience for them."