By JOHN C. COTEY
Published March 13, 2007
Yes to No-No
Land O'Lakes' Matt Smith didn't seem to mind much that someone violated baseball etiquette in the fifth inning Friday by bringing up the fact he had a no-hitter going.
Because, well, it was him.
"I'm not really superstitious," said Smith, a senior right-hander. "So I was the one to break the ice. I said, 'Hey, guys, I got a no-hitter going.' "
And in the sixth inning?
"I told them one more inning, guys," Smith said.
Smith didn't jinx himself - he went on to complete the first no-hitter of his high school career against Central, snapping a two-game losing streak by the Gators.
Smith, using a fastball he said didn't have the zip it usually does but a curveball that was finding the spots, almost lost his no-no before it even started. The leadoff hitter for Central hit a slow roller toward short that J.D. Cook had to hurry on.
Later, leftfielder Derek Lynch had to make a long run on a blooper to save the day.
"It was great. I just hit it and took off running, and when I looked up the outfielder was looking over the fence at it."
- Zephyrhills outfielder Chris Fern after hitting his first over-the-fence homer Friday night, one of three the Bulldogs hit in the eighth inning against South Sumter.
Since losing 8-7 to Pasco in extra innings, the Zephyrhills offense has been in a funk, scoring six runs in 28 innings including the first seven frames of Friday's game against South Sumter.
Then the floodgates opened. Tied at 1 with the Raiders after regulation, the Bulldogs sent 15 batters to the plate in the eighth inning, pounding out three singles, a double and three home runs on the way to 11 runs in a 12-1 win.
Dylan Giella started the inning with a single, and Geoff Parker followed with his second homer of the game. Tyler Guy and Chris Fern added three-run homers in the inning.
The Bulldogs' explosion was too late to help get Austin Adams a win. The sophomore threw 6.2 innings, allowing just one hit and an unearned run while striking out 11.
Parker (4-1) picked up the win in relief.
No runs for you!
This just in: Someone almost scored on Pasco on Thursday night.
Bases loaded, no one out, 0-0 game in the fifth inning.
But alas, it was not to meant to be, as it rarely is these days. Right-hander Aaron Brandt got a strikeout and rare 9-6-2 double play to end the inning, and the Pirates responded with five runs in the sixth inning to beat upset-minded Mitchell.
"They had us on the ropes," coach Ricky Giles said. "They had a lefty out there (Patrick Schuster) who was pretty good. He gave us some trouble."
The victory is Pasco's fourth straight shutout and ninth straight to start the season. Dating to March 1, the Pirates' pitching staff has thrown 24 consecutive scoreless innings. Josh Schofield will try to extend that streak when he starts tonight against South Sumter.
Pasco was supposed to play Hudson on Friday, but it would have been their fourth game of the week, a violation of FHSAA rules. So the game was called off and will be rescheduled later.
John C. Cotey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6261.
The Hot List
Matt Smith Land O'Lakes baseball Shuts out Zephyrhills. Walk-off homer beats Ridgewood. No-hitter against Central. Okay, okay, now what do you do for an encore?
Colena Lazar Pasco softball Victory over Hernando on Friday signals end of Leopards' reign over Class 4A, District 8. There's a new sheriff in town.
Matt Hewitt Mitchell baseball It has been a rough couple of weeks for the Mustangs, who were coming of three straight shutout losses when Hewitt threw a complete game to beat St. Petersburg 6-1 Friday.
Patience Shackley Wesley Chapel track The junior speedster accounted for 23 of fourth-place Wesley Chapel's 56 points at the Bulldog Classic this weekend, including a victory in the 100 hurdles.
Today's best bets
BASEBALL Ridgewood at River Ridge, 7 p.m.: Good riddance to this rivalry after fourth meeting this year.
Bishop McLaughlin at Northside Christian, 6 p.m.: Eight-game win streak gets stiffest test of season. Mitchell at Gaither, 7 p.m.: After win over St. Petersburg, back to the grind for Mustangs.
SOFTBALL Zephyrhills at Pasco, 7 p.m.: First meeting was a mismatch. Gaither at Mitchell: Mustangs still trying to assert self in district.
BOYS TENNIS River Ridge at Ridgewood, 3 p.m.: Rams try to stay perfect.
TRACK Ridgewood, Gulf at Land O'Lakes, 3 p.m.: Rams coming off sweep at Suncoast Relays. Eastside Challenge at Zephyrhills, 3 p.m.: Speed to burn at this meet.