WEEKI WACHEE - Miguel Martinez said he still had plenty left in the tank.
The Springstead sophomore told his coach as much during a trip to the mound in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday night, and said the same after the game.
With one Wiregrass Ranch batter standing between preserving a victory or blowing a lead, Martinez backed up his words, striking out the Bulls' Austin Drury with the bases loaded to seal a 3-2 triumph.
"I had a lot. I didn't feel tired or anything," Martinez said. "Got a little nervous, but I had confidence in me and my defense.
"I've been in those kinds of situations plenty of times. I had to tell myself that I was better, that I can strike this guy out, put it through him and just let him hit it anywhere."
That win, in the second round of the Pasco-Hernando Farm Bureau Insurance Classic at Weeki Wachee, coupled with Central defeating Bishop McLaughlin, 6-2, means the Bears will host the Eagles (7-5 overall, 2-0 in tournament) in a semifinal Thursday at 7 p.m.
In this one, Wiregrass Ranch (8-2 overall, 1-1 in tournament) broke open the scoring in the bottom of the third. Logan Place lifted a fly ball that the diving left fielder corralled but couldn't hold on to as he hit the ground.
Richie Piazza followed with a popup to shallow center, forcing the shortstop to come out and make an over-the-shoulder catch.
Place tagged up and easily beat the wide throw home, providing the Bulls a 1-0 advantage.
Springstead knotted it up on its first hit of the game in the top of the fifth. Danny Schonborn's one-out flare to center scored Will Pagan, who led off the inning with a walk.
It was Pagan who put the Eagles ahead with a clutch at-bat in the sixth. With two outs he worked a full count, then fisted a ball into short right for a single.
Courtesy runner Xavier Rodriguez and Brandon Aguglario came across the plate as Pagan pumped his fist rounding first and heading to second on the throw.
"Topped off the night with that hit, basically, and then Miguel obviously threw the game of his life," Pagan said. "Once I hit it I knew it was over. It was just a little humpback liner over first. I just tried to be quick to the ball. He was pumping it a little bit. Just trying to be quick, get my foot down, making some contact."
Ryan Girard worked a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh to spark the Bulls' last-ditch rally.
A fly out and strikeout sandwiched a single by Alex Fernandez, though a wild pitch moved courtesy runner Jared Beckwith to third. Springstead opted to issue an intentional pass to Place, loading the bases for Piazza out of the ninth spot in the order.
Piazza eventually walked to bring home Beckwith, and turn the lineup over to Drury.
"His pitch count was way low. I had the confidence in him as long as he's telling me he's OK, I know he's telling me the truth," said Springstead head coach Jim Diven, who paid Martinez a visit before Drury's at-bat. "I just felt like he could get the job done."
Martinez allowed the two earned runs on five hits and four walks, striking out five.
"My fastball doesn't have that much velocity, so I throw my cutter to keep them off-balance," Martinez said. "The main thing is I'm a sophomore. I have to have confidence in myself. Just do my thing."
"Bottom line, (Martinez) pitched one heck of a ball game," Diven said. "He's let up two runs in the last three outings, somewhere around 20 innings. He's responsible for this win tonight.
"We put a couple good hits together, yes; but bottom line it was the defense, (Martinez) and our speed on the bases, actually. We were able to double steal and things like that. My team's fast as lightning and it comes in handy many times."
Diven noted that four starters were missing due to vacations over spring break. Add in that the Bulls were a favorite to win the tournament, and this outcome felt even better.
"It's terrific," Diven said. "We won our first two games; we lost five in a row. Right now we've won five in a row. This was a big game for us. They're starting to believe they can beat anybody and they can. We're that strong at this point."
Earlier Wednesday at Weeki Wachee, the host Hornets notched their first win of the season, defeating Zephyrhills, 8-6.
Springstead 3, Wiregrass Ranch 2
123 456 7 R H E
SPG 000 012 0 - 3 3 0
WGR 001 000 1 - 2 5 1
SPG - Martinez and Brosher.
WGR - A. Drury, Z. Drury (5), Stringfield (7) and Goebel.
W - Martinez (4-0). L - Z. Drury (2-1).
2B - none.
3B - Place (WGR).
HR - none.
Records - Springstead (7-5, 2-0 in tournament), Wiregrass Ranch (8-2, 1-1 in tournament).
Pasco-Hernando Farm Bureau Insurance Baseball Classic
Hernando 7, Fivay 0
Land O' Lakes 5, Nature Coast Technical 0
Sunlake 6, Wesley Chapel 5
Central 6, Gulf 0
Bishop McLaughlin 3, Mitchell 2
at Weeki Wachee
Wiregrass Ranch 14, Weeki Wachee 1 (5)
Springstead 12, Zephyrhills 1
Nature Coast Technical 7, Fivay 2
Hernando 3, Land O' Lakes 0
Pasco 11, Ridgewood 0
Pasco 5, Sunlake 4
Mitchell 12, Gulf 0
Central 6, Bishop McLaughlin 2
at Weeki Wachee
Weeki Wachee 8, Zephyrhills 6
Springstead 3,Wiregrass Ranch 2
Nature Coast vs. Wesley Chapel, 4 p.m.
Fivay vs. Wesley Chapel, 7 p.m.
Sunlake vs. Land O' Lakes, 4 p.m.
Hernando vs. Pasco, 7 p.m.
Bishop McLaughlin vs. Wiregrass Ranch, 4 p.m.
Central vs. Springstead, 7 p.m.
at Weeki Wachee
Gulf vs. Zephyrhills, 4 p.m.
Weeki Wachee vs. Mitchell, 7 p.m.