WESLEY CHAPEL — Gulf's perfect record against county opponents was tested but the Bucs scraped together enough offense for a 3-1 victory Thursday at Wiregrass Ranch.
Held to one hit through six innings, Gulf (12-1) broke through in the seventh. But the visitors needed the help of a Wiregrass Ranch two-out error to take the lead.
It was 1-1 entering the seventh when Haley McCarthy worked a one-out walk. Taylor Cook singled to put the Bucs in business and with two out the runners advanced on a wild pitch. Leadoff hitter Britney Pressler, who entered the game with a .514 average but was 0-for-3, hit a grounder that was bobbled by the shortstop and the Bucs took the lead.
Hanna McCarthy made it 3-1 with an RBI single, though Bulls rightfielder Shailynn Morales made a laser throw to home that would have cut down Cook had the ball not been dropped.
Cook scored two of the Buccaneers' runs. She's in the lineup as a result of a season-ending injury to third baseman Tarra Rice, who broke her finger in warmups last week and was hitting .429.
"This team has been resilient," said Gulf coach Rick Hohenthaner. The description worked Thursday as Gulf could have been shaken by a home run from Wiregrass designated hitter Danielle Trina in the fourth that made it 1-0.
But Gulf answered in the top of the fifth when Cook, who was hit by a pitch leading off, came around on a couple of grounders and a wild pitch.
Madison Morlan withstood a Bulls rally in the final at-bat. Jordan Pierceall's double turned her into the tying run with one out, but Morlan got Rainy Perez to line out to second then struck out Kasey Mowery.
"She's as solid as anything I've seen on the mound," said Hohenthaner. Morlan struck out six and walked one.
Though she came into the night third on her team in innings pitched, Marissa Cohen got the start and did well, tossing the first five for Wiregrass (7-5) allowing just the one hit. Trina and Kaylee Barden both went 2-for-3 as the Bulls outhit Gulf 6-3.