BROOKSVILLE – Prep baseball’s Class 5A, Region II quarterfinal round opened Wednesday with three huge upsets.
After Class 5A, District 7 runner-up Pasco shredded 5A-8 champion Land O’ Lakes at “The Swamp”, 8-3, district runner-up Belleview ousted 5A-6 champ Citrus, 8-2.
The 5A-7 champion, Hernando, was the third host team to fall, at the hands of 5A-8 runner-up Sunlake at John C. Emerson Field, 2-1.
In the process, five Leopard seniors closed out their baseball careers.
The only district champion in 5A-II not to be eliminated Wednesday night was 5A-5 champion Citra-North Marion, as the Colts’ game against Lecanto was rained out and was rescheduled for Thursday.
The Seahawks, who started seven seniors, captured their first-ever regional win behind senior southpaw David Castillo’s outstanding three-hitter through 6 1/3 innings.
Sunlake scored two unearned runs on two infield singles and two of the Leopards’ game-high three errors in the second inning.
The hard-luck loser, HHS senior right-hander Kyle Kilbourne (9-2), permitted four singles, two runs (both unearned) against one walk and 10 strikeouts.
“Right now, it hurts a lot,” lamented the 17-year-old Kilbourne. “This was the hardest-working team I’ve ever been on. I don’t think we deserved this result. We had so much confidence going in.”
Kilbourne gave props to Castillo.
“He (Castillo) was awesome. I was trying to match his pitching,” admitted Kilbourne. “He just frustrated our offense and really kept us on our heels the whole game.”
HHS managed one Austin Treverton single in the fourth inning, before Kilbourne and Tyler Allen singled in the seventh. Both Kilbourne and Allen finished 1-for-3.
“Give credit to their pitcher,” explained the 17-year-old Allen. “He (Castillo) pitched really good. He was rushing us and we kind of played his game, instead of slowing him down.”
On the pain of being eliminated after the Leopards’ eighth district title in 19 seasons last Friday in Zephyrhills, “This hurts. It hurts really bad,” replied Allen. “We made too many stupid mistakes in one inning.”
Allen, a senior, praised Kilbourne, saying, “Kyle was amazing. He kept us in the game. We just couldn’t put anything together.”
On a night when the Purple and Gold bats were muzzled going 3-for-23 (.130), HHS’ other seniors, second sacker Bradley Platt, third baseman Brendan Litwinsky and Treverton struggled hitting a combined 1-for-8.