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Bulldogs' defense helps Pirates cruise to victory

Zephyrhills gave host Pasco a head start Thursday night with two errors and a wild pitch, handing the Pirates their first four runs.

The Pasco offense didn't need the help as it polished off the Bulldogs 9-2.

Pasco (5-4 overall, 3-1 in District 4A-6) pounded out six hits in the first four innings to open up an 8-0 lead.

"We're just not hitting," Zephyrhills coach Pat Moul said. "It doesn't do us a lot of good if we're not hitting the ball."

Pasco starter Christina Harris didn't help matters for the Bulldogs by nearly pitching a complete-game shutout. Zephyrhills (3-6, 0-3 in 4A-6) scratched out two runs with two outs in the seventh.

Harris (3-1) started strong, holding the Bulldogs without a hit for the first three innings and registering her five strikeouts in the first four.

Harris also worked out of tough spots in the fourth and sixth innings as she stranded five runners.

Zephyrhills starter Ashley Tunker did her part to get out of trouble, but her defense didn't cooperate.

With two outs and runners on second and third in the first, Tunker forced Pasco's Alavia Madani to hit a ground ball to first. But Jessica Reese let the ball trickle through her legs, allowing Brittany McCarty and Nicole Norris to score.

Tunker (0-3) ran into more trouble in the third with runners on second and third and one out. Norris grounded back to Tunker, and the pitcher tried to keep pinch-runner Alicia Badger from scoring. Third baseman Brianne Davis couldn't handle the throw, allowing Badger to score.

Tunker threw a wild pitch to the next batter, allowing Kayla Bresch to score.

With a 4-0 lead, Pasco added five more runs to open a 9-0 lead after five innings.

"This is the "9-Mile Rivalry' and we had to win," said McCarty, who was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base.

"They would make fun of us and put us down if we didn't."

Pasco's Heather Stroud, Kelly Pugh and Norris each had a hit and an RBI.

Zephyrhills' Reese did her part to make up for the first-inning error.

She was 2-for-3 and struck out six batters in 2 innings of relief.