LEESBURG, Fla. -- The Leesburg Lightning (2-3) and DeLand Suns (4-2) played an offense heavy game on Friday night, culminating in a 10-9 victory for DeLand.
As they have done several times this season, the Lightning got on the board first. In the bottom of the first inning, Cage Cox (undecided) scored on a passed ball to make it 1-0 Lightning after one.
In the top of the second, several Lightning miscues led to three runs for the Suns. After a couple Leesburg errors, Alan Alonso (Mt. Olive) singled through the right side and tied the game at 1-1. DeLand added two more via an RBI single and fielder’s choice on a stolen base and took a 3-1 lead.
The DeLand lead did not last long, however. Edward Surinach (Embry Riddle) singled and promptly stole second and later advanced to third on a wild pitch. After Hermes Abreu (Concordia) walked, Jarrett Backus (King College) drove a double into the right-center field gap that scored Surinach. Next, Wilmer grounded out to the shortstop but drove in Abreu and tied the game at 3-3.
The Lightning would not stop there in the second inning. Parker Pillsbury (Chipola) walked and put runners on the corners with one out. Pillsbury was thrown out attempting to swipe second base, but the throw allowed Backus to scamper home and pushed the Lightning ahead 4-3.
In the top of the third, the Suns regained the lead, 5-4, after an RBI double and an RBI groundout.
Lightning skipper Rich Billings said he liked what he saw from Morrow’s start. “Overall, I thought Cody pitched really well,” Billings said. “I was pleased with that. He was getting a lot of ground balls and soft contact. We just need to make plays.”
The Lightning were held in check in the bottom of the fourth, but Matthew Graves (Blue Mountain) entered to pitch for Leesburg and returned the favor, as he tossed a clean inning in the top of the fifth with a strikeout.
Leesburg had runners on second and third in the fifth with one out, but ran into some cruel luck. Backus smoked a ball right at the third baseman, who caught it and tagged the runner at third for a double-play.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Lightning tied the game up, 5-5, on a wild pitch that scored Pillsbury. The next hitter, Max Law (North Florida) singled through the right side which scored Cox and moved the Lightning ahead 6-5.
In the home half of the seventh, the Lightning added to the lead after the DeLand right fielder misplayed a fly ball that allowed Backus to score and pushed the Lightning lead to 7-5 after seven frames.
The Lightning were unable to add any insurance in the bottom of the eighth and headed to the ninth leading 7-5.
That is where things went sideways for the Lightning. The Suns took advantage of walks and hit batters and tacked on five runs. The game headed into the bottom of the ninth with the Suns in front, 10-7.
The Lightning would score two runs and bring the tying run to the plate, but the Suns would get a big strikeout to end the game. The Lightning fell, 10-9.
Coach Billings applauded the team’s fighter’s mentality. “They fight,” Billings said. “They’re a fun group to be around. We just have to figure out how to piece an entire game together and be consistent. But they will. They’ll figure it out.”
Jaxon Peebles (Alabama)