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Hernando advances on Mikkola's wildness

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.