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Mustangs still seek good breaks, first win

A baserunner collided with an umpire who was out of position. A certain double-play throw pulled a fielder off a bag. Enough runners have been left on base to open a coffee stand.

You name it, it has happened to Mitchell this season.

Seemingly, the only thing that hasn't happened is a Mustangs win.

Other than an 8-4 defeat to Sickles on Tuesday, Mitchell's losses have come by a single run: 5-4 to Springstead, 6-5 in eight innings to Central and 3-2 to Nature Coast Tech.

"So close," coach Scott Williams said, "yet so far."

Mitchell (0-4) hasn't played poorly. Cody Bracy is batting around .400, Zack Weber around .370. Freshman Patrick Shuster has not allowed an earned run in 5 2/3 innings, including four against Sickles.

A break here or there, the Mustangs could be 2-2 or 3-1.

"They're staying positive, and the kids work," Williams said. "It's definitely a team effort. The kids know that they can't rely on just one person, and it's one where if you look at the record, we've needed a number of players.

"But also, it's been the mistakes or not coming through in the clutch also has been spread around. So it's a team both in positive and negative situations."

SEEKING AN IDENTITY: Good news for county opponents: Pasco is "still trying to find ourselves," coach Ricky Giles said.

The bad news: The Pirates 10-run ruled Hudson and Springstead in their first two games.

Senior Robbie Shields and Stephen Roe have paced the high-scoring offense, and sophomore Dustin Brown has been a pleasant surprise at the plate.

Roe and Shields also have seen the bulk of the mound time as Giles has yet to work Kenneth Statham and Chad Whittington into the rotation.

"I thought we swung the bat pretty decent," Giles said. "I thought we had the kids swinging and getting good pitches and swinging at them, definitely. I thought we played pretty solid in the infield, and it's still a question mark for our outfielders.

"We've gotten pretty consistent pitching early, and so, overall, we're still trying to find ourselves."

Giles is withholding judgment for at least another week as Pasco has upcoming games against Land O'Lakes, Zephyrhills and Hernando.

"We've just got a lot to prove," Giles said.

"The season is still early."

CHIPPING IN: With only three regulars back from last season's 14-13 squad, Gulf (2-2) needs contributions from almost everybody.

Senior Steve Mattia is being counted on for run production and steady outfield play. Big things are expected of junior pitcher Kyle Trouton, who is recovering from tendinitis last season. Seniors Nick Pasvantis (.312) and Brandon Decker (.333) and junior Weston Revak (.357) will have to contribute with their arms and their bats. Junior shortstop Nito Navarro will have to anchor the infield, and Jesse Kaselitz and Ben Concepcion will need to fill a hole at catcher after the graduation of Norberto Navarro, the Times 2005 county co-player of the year.

The group gets its first big test in the coming week, when it plays Zephyrhills on Friday, Hernando on March 2 and Hudson on March 3.

"It'll be a measuring stick," coach Shaun Wiemer said. "We'll see whether we step up and produce to be a competitive force in this league or fall to the lower tier."

- FRANK PASTOR, Times staff writer