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Mitchell's first celebration at home plate came in the fourth inning, after Mustangs slugger Marcus Begg bashed a massive home run to extend his team's lead in Thursday's Class 6A, District 10 final.

The second came an hour later, after pitcher Christopher McCormick launched his glove in the air following the final out to set off a series of mosh pits and ice showers commemorating a 6-3 win over No. 1 seed Land O'Lakes.

"It was ridiculous," McCormick said.

The victory gave the second-seeded Mustangs (23-5) their second district championship in three seasons and secured a home game in Wednesday's Class 6A region quarterfinals. It also avenged two losses to the Gators (21-6) this season by a combined 11 runs.

"They beat our butts pretty good twice this year," Mitchell coach Scot Wilcox said. "Just our resilience is what I'm most proud of with these boys."

Especially with Begg and McCormick.

The Mustangs jumped to a 4-0 lead on RBI singles by Begg, PJ DeJesus, FSU commit Cobi Johnson and Blake Hart before Land O'Lakes charged in the third. Alex Reynolds smashed a home run to centerfield, and Connor Stephens' single trimmed the deficit to 4-3.

That's when Begg bounced back with one of his biggest hits of the season. The standout senior blasted a curveball into the football practice field past the leftfield fence for a two-run blast in the top of the fourth.

"He's been doing that all year long," Wilcox said.

But this one was the biggest.

Begg's seventh home run of the year and fourth this month gave his Mustangs a 6-3 lead. It also let McCormick relax after loading the bases three times and nearly being pulled because of a soaring pitch count.

"That kinda got me settled down," said McCormick, who finished with seven strikeouts. "After that, I was just rolling."

Through the first three innings, McCormick allowed seven hits, 10 baserunners and walked in a run. But after Begg's homer, the senior right-hander allowed only two hits and one walk in four scoreless innings.

Land O'Lakes - which will be on the road in its playoff opener - never threatened in the final four frames of its second loss to a Pasco County team this year.

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6A-6: Shining defense sparks Eagles

BROOKSVILLE - Springstead has been led by a collection of seniors all season but it was a junior playing a new position that catapulted the Eagles to a second district title in three years.

Will Pagan's huge diving catch in center preserved a lead before the Eagles went on to defeat Citrus 6-1.

"We've dealt with a lot of adversity all season," Springstead coach Jim Diven said, "but we're jelling at the right time and the kids all believe."

The junior, who spent most of his high school career at shortstop, has found a home in centerfield. He made two spectacular catches, including one to end the bottom of the sixth. With the bases loaded and two out, a line drive to deep right-center could have tied the game. Pagan, running full stride, dove at the last second to preserve a 4-1 lead.

"I didn't think I had a shot at it at all," Pagan said. "I was just trying to get there and make a play, and when the time came I just dove and hoped."

Springstead starter Brandon Brosher struggled through a tough first inning before settling down. He worked through bases-loaded jams in the fifth and sixth. In the first of those situations, he struck out the final two hitters to work out of a bases-loaded one-out spot.

The Hurricanes (12-13) were tied 1-1 with Springstead (16-8) after four. Citrus starter Ben Wright was hanging tough until Ryan Nicoll laced a double with the bases loaded. The bases-clearing three-run blast was enough to drive Wright from the game.

Wright was relieved by Austin Bogart, who didn't fare much better, surrendering a two-run bases-loaded single to Will Perdomo in the top of the seventh.

Derek J. LaRiviere, Times correspondent