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Central still can't pull off upset

Central could take solace from giving Crystal River more trouble than any team on the North Suncoast.

The Bears' three-run loss to the Pirates on Feb. 28 was the exception for a season in which Crystal River had outscored opponents 196-35.

After Friday night, the Bears could also say that but for a few mistakes they might have won the rematch.

But the only thing that really matters is that Crystal River improved to 15-1 with a 7-4 victory.

"On a night when things aren't going good, you do take advantage of mistakes," Crystal River coach Brent Hall said. "They made a couple costly mistakes at a bad time and we capitalized on it.

"And we made a couple mistakes and we were able to hide it."

Central (7-8) started making mistakes early.

The biggest came in the first inning when Bears starting pitcher Thomas Lobianco dropped a Jimmy Metz popup with two outs, allowing the game's first run to score. A batter later, Lobianco chucked a pick-off throw over third base, allowing Marcus Galvin to score, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead.

"When you give up runs like that versus a team like that, it compounds your problems," Central coach Gary Buel said. "When you give them runs like that, it's tough to get out of the hole."

In the third, Lobianco hit two batters, including Metz with two outs, and Will Bleakley hit his third home run of the season for a 5-1 lead. Bleakley finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs.

Central fought back, but two over-aggressive, baserunning plays dampened rallies and made first-time Pirates starter William Bunch a winner. Bunch allowed two runs on five hits in four innings.

"I wasn't too much worried about it," Bunch said. "I knew we had the sticks to back me up."

Reliever Zac Cole allowed two runs on three hits for the save.