BROOKSVILLE - Two batters into Friday night's game, Kyle Kilbourne found himself in a jam.
When he didn't get a call at first base on a potential double play, host Hernando appeared to be in early trouble against Springstead at Emerson Field.
That's when the senior right-hander bore down, escaped unscathed and allow one runner as far as second base the rest of the way, as the Leopards pulled out a 5-0 victory.
"It started on the bump," Hernando head coach Tim Sims said. "Kilbourne attacked the zone tonight. He did a good job on their group, pitching. He executed the game plan to perfection. And then we were solid defensively behind him.
"Kilbourne was actually working his changeup and breaking ball, spotting it very well tonight. He was making it look like a strike in situations and then it would dive out of the zone. He got a little crazy there early where he was overthrowing and that's his number one problem."
Kyle Cotilletta and Eric Correa led off the top of the first with base hits, and Brandon Aguglario beat out a relay throw to first after a force at second.
But Kilbourne responded to that first-and-third, one-out situation with a strikeout and groundout to second to stymie the threat.
Hernando (15-2) broke open a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third. Justin Young, who went 3-for-3, rapped a single up the middle to bring home Tanner Bammert.
After Kilbourne worked the third walk of the inning to load the bases, Andres Cabrera followed with a sacrifice fly to center, and Tyler Allen singled into left field to drive in another run.
On that play, a throwing error to third brought home courtesy runner Owen Morgan and allowed Allen to reach third.
Brad Ellis hit a grounder to the third baseman, and the first baseman couldn't hold on to a low throw that would have recorded the third out as Allen scampered home.
That's all the support Kilbourne would need. He permitted four base runners over the final six innings on two singles, a walk and an error. He struck out four.
Aguglario singled to start the fourth and stole second, yet advanced no further. No other Eagle (8-8) made it past first.
Thanks to this win, the Leopards swept the season series with Springstead. Hernando came back to defeat the Eagles in eight innings on Feb. 25, 6-4.
"Seems we have one bad inning every now and then, and we can't recover from it," Springstead head coach Jim Diven said. "We wanted to win this ballgame. I knew it'd be tough to come here and win. It always is. We should have won the other one, then this probably would have been a little easier. It's Hernando; Springstead-Hernando. We don't like losing. As much as I like the coach, we don't want to lose to them.
"Our team's young and they're playing good baseball. It's more run production than anything. We don't make that many errors. The errors I don't think really hurt us tonight. We're not stringing the hits together and that's the bottom line."
Kilbourne improved to 6-0 on the season, notched his fourth complete game and lowered his earned run average to 0.59.
"I had the curveball that I always like to have, that I can throw for strikes or I can throw it low whenever I need to, and then I had the changeup to complement at all times," Kilbourne said. "I was just able to locate my fastball and pitch to contact."
The Leopards, having already clinched the top seed in Class 5A, District 7 at 10-0, moved to 6-0 within the county.
"This is a group that we have to play as a unit," Sims said. "And we've done that so far. Our philosophy around here is to make people beat us and we're going to continue to have that. I'm proud of this senior group. With them it's not about stats, it's about 'Why not us?' That's what they're saying, 'Why not us?'
"We'll see. We'll keep playing. We've got Central Tuesday."
Hernando 5, Springstead 0
123 456 7 R H E
SPG 000 000 0 - 0 4 2
HER 005 000 X - 5 6 1
SPG - Keith, Stein (3) and Brosher.
HER - Kilbourne and Treverton.
W - Kilbourne (6-0). L - Keith.
2B - none.
3B - none.
HR - none.
Records - Springstead (8-8), Hernando (15-2).