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Pirates' bats come alive

Emily Bayer doesn't need much help, but her teammates gave her some anyway.

Bayer, who threw a perfect game in her previous appearance, pitched seven strong innings for Crystal River and the Pirates pounded out 12 hits to beat Citrus 8-4 on Thursday, leaving them one win from earning the top seed in Class 3A, District 6. Bayer also doubled twice to lead a 12-hit outburst that included Melissa Coburn's fourth home run.

"I'm pretty happy," Pirates coach Lanna Hough said. "We haven't been hitting well, but we came alive tonight. We were more focused in practice (Wednesday) and we hit the ball much better."

Bayer (6-0) struck out 13 and allowed five hits.

She fanned six of the first seven batters she faced and ran into little trouble until the sixth, when a series of defensive miscues led to three Citrus runs.

"Before the game, I told our players to watch for her riseball," Citrus coach Scott Waters said. "But in the first two or three innings, we couldn't lay off of it."

Five Pirates, led by Jennifer's Arnold's 3-for-4 performance, had multiple hits. Bayer was 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs. Crystal River had five extra-base hits.

"They hit the ball all over tonight," Waters said.

Neither team scored until the fourth, when Bayer knocked in two runs with her first double. Two batters later, Alisa Tisdale's single off Citrus starter Krystle Cummings drove in one and gave the Pirates a 3-0 lead.

Cummings was replaced by Megan Rall (2-3), but that didn't slow Crystal River.

The Pirates (10-2, 6-1) struck for two runs in the fifth on Coburn's blast to centerfield, then added three in sixth behind doubles from J.J. Bullion and Bayer for an 8-1 lead over the Hurricanes (7-6, 2-4).

"I think I pitched pretty well," Bayer said. "Everything was working."