Patriots’ make it nine in a row with walk-off win over Pasco-Hernando 

The College of Central Florida’s Jackson Taylor (24) celebrates as he rounds the bases, after his home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to win the game over Pasco Hernando State College at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Fla. on Monday, March 8, 2021. The CF Patriots defeated the Pasco Hernando Bobcats 2-1. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted March 8, 2021 | By Brendan Farrell, Ocala Gazette 

The College of Central Florida’s Jackson Taylor (24) celebrates after his home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to win the game over Pasco Hernando State College on Monday, March 8. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 

With the sun setting behind him on a windy evening, Central Florida redshirt freshman Jackson Taylor let the sun set on Pasco-Hernando’s upset bid of the No. 5 team in the country.  

After leadoff hitter Jeslyn Whitehead was picked off at first, Taylor pulled a 3-1 offering 376 feet through the blustery wind for a walk-off home run and a 2-1 victory over Pasco-Hernando State College on Monday. The win is the Patriots’ ninth win in a row as they improve to 22-5.  

“These guys are in a mode right now where we’re going to win games, we’re going to figure out a way to win,” Smith said. “Sometimes it might not be pretty, it might be on a walk-off wild pitch or whatever, but this team right now is in a mode where we’re going to win.” 

The Patriots blew the doors off Pasco-Hernando (10-15) in their last meeting on Opening Day with a 23-1 win over the Bobcats. Monday’s rematch was the polar opposite.  

Central Florida’s offense struggled immensely in the early goings of the game, as the Patriots didn’t record a hit off Bobcats starter Cameron Kenny until the fifth inning. Kenny lasted six innings, striking out four while allowing just two hits and walking two.  

Patriots starter Shawn Guilliams struggled with his control at times on Monday, but he only allowed one run across six innings. Guilliams struck out five with five walks and three hits.  

The Bobcats registered the game’s first run in the top of the fourth inning. After Adam Berry was thrown out at home on a grounder to third, Diego Garcia laced a line drive to left field to score Kyle Murphy from second. Second baseman Tre Hondras made a diving catch on a line drive to get the Pats out of the jam.  

In the bottom of the seventh, redshirt freshman Jeslyn Whitehead was hit by a pitch from Bobcats reliever Bryce Leonhardt. Whitehead stole second and third and then scored after JC Mendez golfed an RBI single to right field. 

Third baseman Matthew Cedarburg helped the Patriots get out of a potential jam in the top of the eighth. After it was ruled that CF first baseman Jackson Taylor was off the bag to put a runner on first, Cedarburg made a difficult grab on a liner to third. He immediately threw the ball to first for the double play, and the Patriots were out of the inning after reliever Logan Clayton retired the next batter.  

Smith pulled Clayton in the top of the ninth with one out and a runner on second. Reliever Evan Michelson worked the Patriots out of the jam by forcing a ground out and ending the inning on a strikeout to keep the game tied.  

“Evan got us a little momentum by striking out guys with runners in scoring position in the ninth and that kind of carried over to the offensive side in the bottom of the ninth,” Smith said.    

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