Pasco is ready to get out of its funk.
After a mediocre 5-4 start that included losses to Zephyrhills, Fivay and Wesley Chapel, the Pirates bounced back with an impressive 3-1 against county foe Land O' Lakes on Thursday night, something longtime coach Ricky Giles hopes improves the team's morale.
"I think the other games we had were like day and night," Giles said. "I don't see us having problems, but it's early in the season and we started in that funk. In a baseball season, and in all the seasons I've known, you (can) come out of them blocks, like something died on the end — I'm a full believer that you can stay in the whole season and that's what these kids have done."
The Pirates (6-4) got a tremendous pitching performance from Kendrick Stewart (3-1), who pitched 6 ⅓ innings before loading the bases in the seventh with one out. Nursing a 3-0 lead on a sac fly by Jesse Pavek and two-RBI single by Derek Dious, the Gators' (7-2) rally was assisted by an error by leftfielder Michael Wilson.
However, reliever Troy Rivera was able to pick up his first save, even after Austin Conner drove home Nathan Grant for Land O' Lakes' lone run. Wilson made up for his error, making a diving catch to end the game.
"Mikey had to make a helluva catch there," Giles said. "I know he missed the first one, but I guess he was saving it for the one that was more important. He caught the one that really mattered."
Gators starter Ryan Wall also pitched well, picking up the complete game and not allowing an earned run, despite giving up one in the fifth (sacrifice fly) and two in the sixth.
"Throwing off the mound, (Wall) looked good," longtime Gators coach Calvin Baisley said. "He gave us a chance to win, which is what you want from your starting pitcher. He battled and deserved better than that tonight."
The Gators, still, came close to tying it, as a liner down the third-base line by Cameron Miller was inches foul. ("That ball was so close I couldn't tell and I was right there," Baisley added). But Miller would strike out and Dylan Harris would ground out to end the threat.
"We've been playing so good defensively, but we gave this game away," Baisely said. "We didn't defend the bunt or play the bunt well. We didn't show up until the seventh inning and then it was too late. We couldn't do anything offensively — we were inept there and that's what's got to change for us."