WESLEY CHAPEL - It's too early for the other Class 4A-District 8 teams to concede the regular-season championship to Wiregrass Ranch, but at 5-0 and with victories against the two other teams expected to contend for the title, the Bulls are in pretty good shape.
Wiregrass Ranch remained perfect in district play with a 10-0 shutout against Brooksville Hernando (4-2, 3-1 4A-8) on Friday.
"To get off to a 5-0 (district) start, it puts us out to a great start," Wiregrass Ranch first-year coach Jeff Swymer said. "I think next week we have a chance to do some things. We've got a couple tough teams - three district games - so we've got a chance to separate ourselves if we play well."
The Bulls host Zephyrhills on Tuesday, then travel to Sunlake on Thursday and to Brooksville Nature Coast on Friday.
Wiregrass Ranch (5-1) took advantage of some sloppy fielding by the Leopards to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Jimmy Owens reached on an error to lead off the game and was sacrificed to second by Jose Gonzalez. One out later Owens scored when Spencer Bowles reached on a throwing error.
With the performance by Bulls starting pitcher Cyler Porter, that run was all Wiregrass Ranch probably needed. Porter (2-0) had Hernando's hitters off balance the entire game with a nasty curveball.
"He did a nice job setting up at-bats with first-pitch strikes," Swymer said. "He got ahead and we could do some things. We didn't get in predictable counts. We worked ahead and kept runners off base, which is always nice when you don't have to go into your stretch. He did a great job."
Porter gave up a single to Brandon Gemmiti to lead off the game and then retired the next 10 Leopards before Luis Colaiacomo singled with one out in the fourth. Hernando only had four base runners and never got one past second base.
The senior right-hander finished with a 3-hit shutout, walking only one and striking out 10 in five innings. It was his second shutout of the season. He hasn't allowed a run in 12 innings this season.
Wiregrass Ranch got to Hernando starter Austin Rollins (1-1) in the third inning as Gonzalez got a one-out single and scored on a triple by Josh Johnson. Bowles followed with a RBI single and after Porter walked, Joel Marin cleared the bases with a double.
The Bulls repeated the 2-run inning in the fourth against Hernando relief pitcher Sergio Castillo. Ryan Madden reached on an error to start the inning. Owens followed with a ground ball but the throw to force Madden at second was high and both runners were safe as the Leopards were charged with their fifth error of the game.
Gonzalez singled to load the bases and was forced at second on a ground ball hit by Johnson, but Madden scored on the play to give the Bulls a 6-0 lead. Bowles sent the next pitch over the left-center field fence to clear the bases and put Wiregrass on top 9-0.
Porter worked out of trouble in the top of the fifth inning, giving the Bulls a chance to end the game in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Madden doubled to center and Owens followed with a single to drive in the 10th run.
WIREGRASS RANCH 10, BROOKSVILLE HERNANDO 0
Hernando 000 00 - 0 3 5
Wiregrass Ranch 104 41 - 10 8 0
W - Porter (2-0, 10 Ks). L - Rollins (1-1). 2B - Merin, Madden (W). 3B - Johnson (W). HR - Bowles (W). Records - H 4-2, W 5-1.