Solid pitching and a huge homerun in the eighth was not enough to push the Leesburg Lightning (2-4) over the Winter Garden Squeeze (5-3) Wednesday night at Pat Thomas Stadium.
A fielder’s choice and a throwing error brought in two runs for the Squeeze to give them a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. The Lightning responded in the bottom of the inning when Bubba Sangster (St. John’s River) singled to center field, scoring two for Leesburg and tying the contest. A single from Tucker Rayburn (Tallahassee CC) plated Camden Williamson (North Carolina A&T) for a 3-2 Lightning lead.
A two run home run put the Squeeze up 4-3 in the third inning but Daniel Bergtholdt (Southeast Missouri State) eliminated any threats with a swinging strikeout, his fifth of the night.
Josh Wilson (Florida A&M) entered in the fourth inning and tossed a solid four innings, allowing only three hits, one run and striking out six.
“[Wilson] stepped up tonight big time,” Lightning head coach Rich Billings said. “He did a nice job tonight of just coming in and competing, I think it was so obvious that the only thing he was focused on was just one hitter at a time – just getting one out of a time.”
Winter Garden struck again in the fifth on another throwing error to make it 5-3 Squeeze.
A single in the eighth drove in another run for the Squeeze and another error brought in Winter Garden’s seventh run of the night. Cage Cox (Alabama State) limited the damage with a power throw from right field to catch a Squeeze runner heading for home.
Sangster closed the gap when he crushed a fastball up in the zone for a huge three run long ball over the left field fence to make it 7-6 Squeeze.
“That was such a huge weight lifted off our shoulders,” Billings said. “That helps to relax everybody so much more, knowing that you have to score one run in the ninth inning instead of four. That couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Leesburg entered the bottom of the inning hoping to get by on small ball but their efforts were cut short.
The Lightning head out on a three day road trip to Winter Park beginning tomorrow, June 15, with first pitch set for 7 p.m. at Bishop Moore High School.
“It’s just another chance to play,” Billings said.” It’s nice that we’re playing on a turf field because now, if it rains, we still have a chance to get it in. It’s nice knowing we have a better shot to play regardless of the weather.”
Emily Shoffit (Auburn University)
Photo by Bob Snow/Leesburg Lightning