In what could be a preview of the Class 5A, District 6 championship game, Gaither snatched a victory from Brandon 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Cowboys scored the winning run on an error by Eagles shortstop Christian Diaz, who missed the tag at second, and allowed pinch runner Ryan Trainor to score from second.
"We gave it to them, and they gave it back to us," Gaither coach Frank Permuy said. "It wasn't a pretty win. We have a lot of young guys who don't know how to win yet."
Brandon (2-1) opened the game with a run in the first inning, when Diaz singled into center, scoring Rick Leslie from third.
Gaither (3-2) countered in the bottom of the first to tie the game 1-1 as Chris Walther singled in Frank Lopez.
The Eagles added two more runs in the fourth and the fifth as Diaz scored on a wild pitch by Cowboy pitcher Alex Bliss in the fourth and an RBI single in the fifth inning by rightfielder Rick Leslie.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Cowboys rallied to tie the game 3-3 off a triple into rightfield by Lopez, scoring Brian Allen and Kevin Gordon.
Gaither pitcher Bliss (2-0) threw his first complete game, striking out seven with five hits, two walks and one earned run allowed.
Bloomingdale pounds Chamberlain 12-1
TAMPA _ They don't overpower you. They don't dazzle you. They just beat you.
And the beat goes on for Bloomingdale, which got a true team performance in bulldozing Chamberlain 12-1 Tuesday. Three pitchers teamed up on a three-hitter and the Bulls got 10 hits _ from 10 players _ and improved to 4-0. Chamberlain slipped to 2-2.
"We're much tougher defensively and our pitching is solid," Bulls coach Jack Miltner said. "All we have to do to win is hit and we certainly did that today."
Chamberlain right-hander Todd Jordan, 6-0 a year ago, struggled with his control and fell behind early in absorbing his second loss to begin this season. After Josh Etheredge singled with one out in the top of the first, Jordan walked Mac Mackiewitz and Gilbert Morales to load the bases. Michael Valdes singled to drive in Etheredge and after Tate Morris took a called third strike, Jeremy Robinson singled to bring home two more runs.
The Bulls added two more runs in the third on two walks, a hit batter, a passed ball and a two-RBI, opposite-field bloop double by pitcher Jeff Wools. Bloomingdale poured it on in the late innings, adding two runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh.
Wools, a senior lefthander, struck out one and walked two, allowing two hits in four innings of work. Junior right-hander James Ballard pitched two hitless innings, but did allow the Chiefs' lone run in the fifth on a pair of walks and a sacrifice fly by Mike Krekorian. Sophomore right-hander Dan Byan fanned two in his one inning, the seventh.
Bloomingdale hosts Brandon on Friday before an important clash Saturday at Hillsborough.
_ DAVID BRACKMAN