BROOKSVILLE — It took seven seasons for Sunlake to break through and qualify for the state playoffs. Once there, the Seahawks showed they belonged.
Thanks to a dominant performance on the mound and a few fielding miscues by Hernando, Sunlake left Emerson Field with a 2-1 victory in a Class 5A region quarterfinal Wednesday.
“I thought we had a chance if we played hard,” Sunlake coach Dick Rohrberg said. “We have some decent pitching and good defense behind it. These kids deserve it.”
The Seahawks (18-9) struggled against Hernando ace Kyle Kilbourne. But they scratched out two unearned runs in the second thanks to three errors. Hernando (23-5) finished with four errors.
Kilbourne (complete game, three hits, 10 strikeouts, one walk) was outdueled by David Castillo. The southpaw struck out 11 and had a no-hitter entering the seventh. A couple of hits chased him, but Ryan Talburt shut down Hernando for his first save of the season.
“(Kilbourne) motivated and made me work harder because you have to keep fighting,” Castillo said. “I came in ready with a good mind-set. I wanted to attack their lineup, and it seemed to work.”
Sunlake had only three hits, all by second baseman Omar Cala. Entering with a team-leading .378 batting average, Cala went 3-for-3 and scored the Seahawks’ first run.
After beating out an infield hit, Cala went to second when Zac Scranton reached on an error. Alex Anderson reached on another error with one out to load the bases. Talburt grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Cala, and Scranton scored on an errant throw to first.
The 2-0 lead proved insurmountable with Castillo on the mound. The senior threw 120 pitches, walking only three.
“You just have to tip your cap to (Sunlake),” Hernando coach Tim Sims said. “Castillo and Kilbourne both pitched great games.”