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NO TROUBLE FOR 5A-8 TOP SEEDS

The top seeds won in Wednesday's Class 5A, District 8 semifinals, setting the stage for Friday's championship game between No. 1 Pasco and No. 2 Wesley Chapel.

Host Pasco defeated Fivay 10-0 in five innings of the nightcap, which followed Wesley Chapel's 2-0 shutout of Ridgewood.

For first-year Pasco coach Pat Fortunato, who spent six years as a Wesley Chapel assistant under coach Chuck Yingling, it will be a reunion of sorts. "It's like playing my dad," Fortunato said.

Left-hander Blaine Duncan pitched a one-hit shutout, striking out five with no walks in leading the Pirates (19-8) to their fourth win over the Falcons this season.

"I just go out there and do my job as usual," he said.

Added Fortunato: "He threw strikes. He kept them off-balance and we played good defense."

Pasco also played some pretty good offense, racking up 11 hits and 10 runs in a game shortened by the 10-run mercy rule. Logan Johnson hit a three-run home run in the fourth He also had a double and scored in a four-run first.

Also contributing to Pasco's scoring outburst were A.J. Rainaldi, who had a two-run double and RBI single, and Robbie Hanlon, who singled twice, walked once and scored three runs.

In the first game, Chase Ingram pitched a five-hit shutout with eight strikeouts and no walks.

"He's been efficient all year for us," Yingling said of Ingram, who fanned Tristian Ficarro with the bases loaded and two outs to end the game.

The Wildcats (19-7) got both of their runs in the bottom of the fifth. Kyle Custer reached on an infield error, and Gabe Oritz singled with Custer scoring on another error and Ortiz racing home on Sebastion Ferreiras' single.

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5A-7: Leopards move on, Sharks falter

EUSTIS - Second-seeded Hernando advanced to the Class 5A, District 7 championship with a decisive 10-1 victory over sixth-seeded Tavares.

Senior Brandon Lawson was stellar, tossing a complete game while holding the Bulldogs (6-14, 1-8) to one run. He recorded 12 strikeouts and walked only one.

"Tavares has played us tough for three years now," Hernando coach Tim Sims said. "We were fortunate to get out in front and score some tack-on runs. ...A good win against an underrated tough, scrappy Tavares team."

Hernando (21-5, 9-2) broke the game open in the first three innings, largely due to senior Christian Arroyo, who went 3-for-4 with five RBIs.

Arroyo led off the bottom of the first with a sharp double down the leftfield line and later scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead. Arroyo crushed a grand slam over the left-centerfield fence in the second to give the Leopards a 5-0 lead, and he struck again in the third, delivering an RBI single for a 6-0 cushion.

"We came and we played well, and we got a lot of hits when we needed to in clutch situations," Arroyo said. "We clinched our spot into regionals. ...We're going to try to win a district championship, since we lost last year, and get home-field advantage and make a run in the state playoffs."

Junior Austin Treverton also delivered a two-run single for the Leopards.

In the nightcap, fifth-seeded Nature Coast (12-14, 3-10) fell 12-2 to top-seeded Eustis in 4 1/2 innings. The Panthers scored 12 runs in the first three innings. Eustis (21-7, 11-0) also cashed in on a plethora of Shark errors.

Drue Brooks belted a homer for Nature Coast, and Brandon Lamondra had an RBI single.

"We got 12 wins compared to seven last year," Nature Coast coach Vito Tambasco said. "Next year I think we'll be a lot stronger. ...We just made too many errors right out of the gate."

Joseph Kornecki III, Times correspondent

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