tampabay.com

Pirates find form for rout

Aaron Brandt settles down after a shaky start to propel Pasco.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published May 2, 2007


DADE CITY - Aaron Brandt was one pitch from disaster, runners on each base, the No. 3 batter standing in, his Pirates already in the hole.

It wasn't the kind of start the junior right-hander envisioned for his first postseason start.

But the ending was.

After escaping a second inning fraught with danger, Brandt dominated, and the Pasco bats helped nudge him further into his comfort zone as the Pirates rolled to an 8-2 win over St. Cloud.

Trailing 2-0 in the second, the Pirates 26-3 had six straight runners reach to take a 4-2 lead, which was more than enough for Brandt.

After allowing five hits in the first two innings, Brandt gave up just two the rest of the way, striking out six to improve to 9-0 in his first full season of starting.

He retired the last 11 batters and said a minor adjustment - he wasn't bending his back and following through on his delivery - led to his recovery.

"I was feeling a lot better later on, " said Brandt, who said he averages about 83 mph on his fastball but was topping out at 87 mph.

Jake Schrader had a hit and two RBIs for Pasco while Quintin Jones and Henry Johnson scored twice. Dustin Brown punctuated Pasco's performance (eight of the nine starters had at least one hit) with a towering home run to left-center in the fourth inning, making it 7-2.

John C. Cotey can be reached (727) 869-6261 or john cotey@gmail.com.