A matchup of two Pasco County coaching legends on Tuesday didn't disappoint.
Adrian Serrato went 2-for-4, including a walk-off single that drove in Logan Johnson, as Pasco (3-0) overcame a three run seventh inning deficit to beat Ridgewood 5-4 in eight innings in a Class 4A-District 7 game.
"We knew this was going to be a measuring stick game for us. We've always had good ballgames against (Rams coach Larry) Beets," Pirates coach Ricky Giles said, "With teams like Wesley Chapel and Mitchell, we are in a good district. A win like this really helps our young kids grow for what lies ahead."
In mentioning the youth of his club, Giles pointed out that he lost nine seniors from last year. It could be inferred that Pasco doesn't rebuild. It reloads.
It reloads with players like Trey Dudley-Giles, who gave up two hits and struck out 10 in five innings of work.
It reloads with players like Cole Stancil, who came to the plate with the bags full in the bottom of the seventh and smashed a double to clear the bases and send the contest into extra innings. Stancil also recorded the win in relief of Dudley-Giles.
Stancil, a senior, has emerged as the leader of this club, "Cole was kind of upset before he came up in the seventh because he hadn't hit the ball the way he really wanted to, but he knew how to handle that situation. He's already been to war with us and he shows the younger kids how to get it done. If they can follow him and just grab his coattails, the young kids will be fine," Giles said.
Ridgewood (2-4) took an early lead in the top of the third when an Adam Arrowood single drove in Tim Osborne. Osborne crossed home plate again in the fifth, this time being knocked in by Bobby McCabe, as the Rams took a 2-0 lead.
The Ridgewood lead would be cut in half in the bottom half of the frame, as Serrato took home following a wild pitch from Rams starter Austin Tolle, before ballooning to 4-1 in the top of the sixth following a double by Drake Hloska that plated Tolle and an infield single by Osborne that drove in Ricky Handschumacher.
At this point a comeback was difficult to see coming, due to the lack of offensive production Pasco was getting with runners on base.
The same Pirates offense that stranded seven runners in the contest, including runners on second and third with no outs in the second inning, came alive in the seventh inning.
A single by Serrato and walks issued to Michael Wilson and Dudley-Giles loaded the bases for Stancil, who slapped a line drive into the gap in left-centerfield to tie the score and send the home crowd into a frenzy.
"I am just so proud of what our kids accomplished today and I know the experience of playing in close games late will only help us grow as a team. We still haven't found ourselves yet and we have a long way to go, but a night like this can only give us confidence going forward," Giles said.