By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 2001
DADE CITY -- Is it better to be lucky than good?
Isn't it better to be both?
Pasco had both going in its favor Wednesday night, clinching the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A, District 6 tournament with a 12-2 home win over Zephyrhills. The surging Pirates now have won 11 consecutive games, the past two coming in consecutive nights against their "9-Mile" rival.
Pasco owed its victory to many things: another dominant outing by pitcher Trey Evans, some well-placed hits and a Zephyrhills squad that struggled on the mound, at the plate and on defense.
"We were down a little bit there during the game," Pirates coach Ricky Giles said. "But we scrapped, and we came back. Sometimes, though, it takes a little bit of luck to help you out."
One team's luck is another's misfortune. Through five innings, it looked like the Bulldogs were on their way to another mere loss, down 5-2, until the bottom of the sixth, when disaster struck. Pasco batters started walking the bases. Strikes vanished. The bases started to load up. The Bulldogs made a pitching change. The catcher missed a tag. The rest of the inning was a blur of fourth balls, passed balls, blown outs and one beaned batter.
Eight runs later, the game ended because of the 10-run rule. Afterward, Zephyrhills coach Bruce Cimorelli sat alone in the visiting dugout, wearing his disappointment on his sleeve as he stared, expressionless, at an empty field.
"All hell broke loose in that inning," he said. "We just don't have the mental toughness to win these close ballgames, especially our upperclassmen.
"We can't get a big hit, and we can't make the big play."
Evans improved to 5-1, striking out six and allowing five hits in six innings. Tyson Prickett took the loss, allowing 10 hits and five earned runs.
Zephyrhills (8-14, 1-6) was led by Danny Wardell, who went 2-for-3 and had an RBI in the third.
Pasco (17-6, 7-1) was led by Lee Cruz, who was 3-for-4 with five RBI and two doubles, and Nate Strayer, who went 2-for-3 and had three RBI.