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HOMOSASSA - After a slow six innings in which Hernando Christian stumbled with defensive miscues and Seven Rivers Christian could not muster a hit, no one could have expected such a wild seventh inning.
That's when the Warriors came alive with five hits and two runs to take a one-run lead, then the Lions took some chances to battle back. The inning ended with a risky squeeze bunt by senior third baseman Tim Whatley, who sent Tyler Peterson home for a 3-2 championship victory.
The district title is a first for the top-seeded Lions (14-12), who entered Florida High School Athletic Association competition last year. In the top of the seventh, the Warriors (14-7) broke up pitcher Robbie Fleischer's bid for a no-hitter by getting five hits out of eight batters. Catcher Derek Labahn and Cody Swain each scored off singles from Tyler Swander and Chad Peets, putting the Warriors ahead 2-1.
"When that happened," Hernando Christian assistant coach Mike Drummond said, "everyone kind of exhaled."
The Lions perked up quickly, though, as first batter Jamie Floyd reached first base on a Warriors error. Peterson followed with the only double of the game, then got on third base with a Noah Lane walk.
As the third squeeze bunt attempt of the game, Hernando Christian's strategy seemed obvious. Yet Whatley managed to lay down the ball perfectly and Peterson scored the winner.
Hernando Christian hosts a region quarterfinal game Tuesday. Seven Rivers will travel to play the District 6 winner.