Hernando baseball coach Tim Sims had heard all about Largo ace Shawn Mikkola. He knew the senior pitcher couldn't be taken lightly. He heard Mikkola had a strong arm, and he wanted his Leopards to establish themselves at the beginning.
It was Largo, however, that took a 3-2 lead after the first inning. But that was the lone high point for the Packers (3-8). Mikkola, who began the game throwing 87 mph, faded, and the rest of the Packers followed, as Hernando (11-4) took a 13-3 win in the second round of the Dunedin spring baseball tournament.
Mikkola was inconsistent with his speed and location, his fastball jumping from 73-80 mph as he tried to find the strike zone. But the decreased velocity led to five walks, one hit batter and five runs after two innings. After throwing 78 pitches _ all but seven fastballs _ to 16 batters, Mikkola gave way to Eric Wahlbeck in the third.
"(Mikkola) was pushing a bit," Sims said. "Our kids adjusted and made him throw strikes."
Wahlbeck, a sophomore, didn't fare much better, as Hernando jumped on him for eight runs. B.J. Hart's double in the fifth inning scored Francisco Garcia to end the game via the 10-run rule.
Matt Morgan (6-1) pitched a two-hitter and struck out five for the win.
In other action, Northeast (8-5) beat Central (8-7) 6-4 as senior left-hander Will Philp, who recently converted into a reliever, went 3-for-4 with a double and struck out five of the last seven to earn the save. "Will did an excellent job," Northeast coach Rob Blair said. "He has a live arm for a lefty."
At Dunedin Stadium, Jeff Crutcher hit a two-RBI double, the lone extra-base hit of the night, in the fifth inning to propel Pasco (13-2) past pesky Clearwater (6-7) 5-2. Clearwater tied it 2-2 after the second inning and got a complete-game four-hitter from Brendan Fuller, but his five walks hurt.
"They have the best outfield I've seen," Clearwater coach Roger Tremblay said. "We had a lot of hard-hit balls, but they were right at them."
Pasco faces the winner of East Lake and Countryside, which started late, Wednesday night.
The Ridgewood-Pinellas Park and Dixie Hollins-River Ridge games also started late.