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