SANFORD, Fla. -- The Leesburg Lightning (3-4) travelled back to historic Sanford Memorial Stadium to begin its season series with the Seminole County Scorpions (2-6).
The Lightning jumped on the Scorpions in the early going, putting three runs on the board before the Scropions could record an out.
Robbie Scott (North Florida) reached via a walk to lead off the game. Scott then stole second and the catcher’s throw trickled into centerfield, which allowed Scott to advance to third. The Scorpions tried to nab Scott at third, but the throw sailed into the Seminole County dugout and Scott scored on the play and gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead.
After a Donte Wade (North Carolina A&T) walk, Max Law (North Florida) smacked a double into left-center for an RBI double and moved to third on the throw to home to double the Leesburg lead. Cage Cox (Undecided) then stepped in and lined a single up the middle to drive in Law and tacked on another run to extend the Lightning lead to 3-0. The Lightning pushed another across after an error and led 4-0 after the first inning.
In the second frame, Law singled home Jarrett Backus (King College) for his second RBI in as many innings and gave the Lightning a 5-0 lead. The Scorpions would cut into the Leesburg lead on an error and the Lightning led 5-2 after one.
The Lightning added two runs to its lead in the third on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly. After three innings of play, the Leesburg lead was 7-2.
The Lightning loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fifth, but left them stranded after consecuitve strikeouts.
The Scorpions put together a big inning in the home half of the fifth, plating three runs to cut the deficit to 7-5. Diego Arredondo (Wallace CC) relieved starting pitcher Ronny Hinton (South Florida State) with two outs in the fifth. Hinton posted a final line of 4.2 innings with six hits, three earned runs and three strikeouts.
“Ronny did a really good job,” head coach Rich Billings said. “I think he ran out of gas. But he did a really nice job of competing. I thought all our pitchers did a nice job.”
After a Cox walk and a Tate Mathis double (North Alabama), Edward Surinach (Embry Riddle) was plunked to load the bases. Hermes Abreu (Concordia) was hit by a pitch, which scored a run for Leesburg. A Stephen Wilmer (East Carolina) sacrifice fly made it 9-5 before Backus smoked a two-RBI single to extend the lead to 11-5.
Seminole County got a run back in the bottom of the seventh on a Topher Grant (Lenoir-Rhyne) RBI double. Lightning led 11-6 after seven innings of action.
In the top of the eight, Mathis walked before stealing second and third base. Mathis then came home after a Surinach RBI single and the Lightning extended its lead to 12-6.
Leesburg added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth, when Sean Mootrey (Georgia Gwinnett) crushed a towering three-run homer to the deepest part of Sanford Memorial Stadium in dead-center. The Lightning led 15-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Mootrey said he got a really good pitch to hit and did not miss it. “He was leaving a lot of stuff in the zone,” Mootrey said postgame. “It came in pretty fat, so I took a hack and it went pretty far.”
Parker Pillsbury (Chipola) shut the door in the ninth and the Lightning claimed the 15-6 victory to improve to 3-4.
Coach Billings loved what he saw from his offense tonight. “We finally started hitting some balls hard with guys in scoring position,” Billings said. “Then (Sean) Mootrey came up in the ninth and blasted that ball. We just squared up a lot of balls tonight.”
Lightning return home on June 11 to face Seminole County at 7:00 PM.
Jaxon Peebles (Alabama)