By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
Zephyrhills rallies in the eighth for 5-3 win over Land O'Lakes.
LAND O'LAKES - Baserunning determined the outcome of Thursday's Sunshine Athletic Conference game between Zephyrhills and Land O'Lakes.
The Bulldogs' running led to extra bases and runs, while the Gators ran into outs. That, along with timely hitting, helped Zephyrhills overcome a three-run deficit for a 5-3 comeback win in eight innings.
The Bulldogs (15-1) snapped a tie at three with two runs on three hits in the top of the eighth.
Jessica Davis doubled and Hayley Decker looped a single to shallow leftfield with both runners scoring on Kim Hapeman's single up the middle.
With Decker stopped at third base, Hapeman ran toward second. Land O'Lakes catcher Kim Hensley tried to throw out Hapeman, who was called safe, and Decker slid under the tag on a return throw home.
"If the ball's going to the catcher, (Hapeman is) going," Zephyrhills coach Craig Milburn said of sending Hapeman to second on a throw home. "I'd trade an out for a run anytime."
Land O'Lakes (10-2) had a chance to win it in the seventh, but pinch-runner Tristan Trottier got thrown out in a rundown between third and home, and Michelle Bradley grounded out on what might have been ball four on an intentional walk.
"They ran themselves out of the seventh inning," Milburn said.
Land O'Lakes took a 3-0 lead on Kim Hensley's run-scoring double and RBI singles by Bradley and Jessica Tejas. The Gators might have had another, but Loren Smith, who led off the fourth with a triple, was thrown out at home on a grounder to shortstop Hillary Tunker.
Tunker, who got the win with two innings of scoreless relief, turned 18 Thursday.
"It was totally awesome," Tunker said of the gift from her teammates.
Trailing 3-1, thanks to Davis' home run in the sixth, Zephyrhills scored twice in the seventh on Ashley Anderton's two-run, two-out single.