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Lightning walk off, tie series against Sanford

Lightning walk off, tie series against Sanford

LEESBURG – The Leesburg Lightning (2-2) defeated the Sanford River Rats (3-3) by a final score of 6-5 on Friday night at Pat Thomas Stadium. It was a game of cat-and-mouse throughout the night. 

A leadoff double from Chase Hager (Iowa Western CC) jumpstarted the Leesburg offense. A sacrifice fly from Cage Cox (Alabama State) brought in the Lightning’s first run of the game.

Sanford responded in the second when Gunnar Lambert (Florida Atlantic) drove in a run to tie it up 1-1.

“Every time we won the first inning we won the game. Tonight was no different,” Lightning head coach Rich Billings said. “That was our short term goal was to win that first inning. 

Cox singled to center field and the ball would slip past Rodney Tennie (Georgia Gwinnet) to score Peyton Faulkner (Jefferson CC) and Kevin Lambert (Western Kentucky) in the bottom of the third.

Sanford would chalk up two more runs in the top of the fourth to tie the game again at 3-3 in the fourth.

Leesburg starter Mike Ruff (Florida Atlantic) tossed four innings with three strikeouts and two earned runs before being replaced by Daniel Bergtholdt (Southeast Missouri State). 

“[Ruff] did a good job of getting out there and throwing up a zero in the first inning,” Billings said. 

In the seventh inning, the River Rats regained the lead 4-3 but the Lightning didn’t let that stand.

Cox tabbed another single in the eighth to score Lambert and bring it to a 4-4 score. The cleanup hitter Tristen Gagan (Southeast Missouri State) doubled to right field and scored Cox for a 5-4 lead. 

Bergtholdt was replaced after four innings, two hits, one earned run and three strikeouts.

Ryan Allain (Florida Tech) and the defense retired two in the ninth before veteran Drew Peden (Florida Atlantic) entered to toss for the Lightning. Wild pitches would score the tying run for a 5-5 ball game.

“I told myself that I had to be better,” Peden said. “I didn’t want to let my team down.” Peden settled in and sent A.J. Makarewicz (Alcorn State) down swinging for the final out.

Jay Prather (University of North Florida) reached first on an error in the bottom of the ninth and would advance to third thanks to a single by Jesse Getford (Undecided) that was mishandled. Two outs would follow and it came down to Camden Williamson (North Carolina A&T) at the dish.

According to the sophomore, all he had to do was “be patient and wait for a pitch to hit.” A second pitch curveball was put in play and Prather scored to give the Lightning their second win of the season.

“It’s always fun playing against Sanford,” Billings said. “They’re a big rival of ours. It’s fun to beat them, but it’s always a dog fight.” 

The Lightning head back to Sanford on Saturday night to face the River Rats. First pitch is set for 7 p.m


Emily Shoffit (Auburn University)


River Rats 30 12 0.714 ---
Scorpions 19 17 0.528 8
Diamond Dawgs 19 18 0.514 8.5
Lightning 19 20 0.487 9.5
Squeeze 17 21 0.447 11
Suns 11 27 0.289 17


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Batting Leaders

C Cox
Name AVG
Cox 0.286
Lambert 0.283
Faulkner 0.234
Gagan 0.234
T Gagan
Name HR
Gagan 3
Cox 2
Rayburn 2
Faulkner 1
T Gagan
Name RBI
Gagan 21
Cox 18
Koenig 15
Rayburn 11
C Cox
Name SB
Cox 7
Faulkner 7
Prather 6
Koenig 4

Pitching Leaders

D Jeancola
Name ERA
Jeancola 1.83
Johnson 2.83
Ruff 3.66
Wilson 4.22
T Smith
Name W
Smith 4
Johnson 3
Parry 3
Peden 3
J Wilson
Name K
Wilson 33
Jeancola 32
Ruff 30
Bergtholdt 28
D Jeancola
Jeancola 0.90
Peden 0.90
Burgess 1.11
Johnson 1.13