By, Zack Smolen
Leesburg, FL – The Seminole County Snappers had their share of momentum heading into the FCSL Semifinal Game against the #1 Seed Leesburg Lightning after beating the Leesburg Storm at Pat Thomas Stadium the night before, but it was the Lighting who were able to defend their home turf and pick up a 9-0 win on their way to the Championship Series. The best of three will start on Thursday against the #2 Seed Sanford River Rats to crown the winner of the 2020 season.
In the beginning, it looked like the Snappers were building up to something big, opening the contest with back-to-back base runners to start off the top of the first. Their big hitter Giovany Lorenzo (Stetson) then grounded into a double play that was facilitated by a spectacular stop by Robbie Scott (UNF) to put two outs on the board to halt the momentum. Seminole County would then fail to bring the runner in from third base.
The starting pitching performance of Dylan Kelley (UNF) was a big reason why Lightning were able to shut down a Snapper offense that ranked second in the regular season with a .282 average and had scored six runs the prior evening. Though Kelley didn’t have his best stuff, he was able to make some adjustments and work through 4.2 innings of scoreless ball while scattering just two hits. “I just pitched to contact,” said Kelley, “and I was making them swing the bat.”
Tyler Tipton (Florida Gulf Coast) and Will Ohme (UNF) bridged the gap the rest of the way to preserve the shutout, combining for 4.1 frames and five strikeouts. Tipton looked the best he has all season, surrendering just one hit against a team that averaged nearly 7.5 per contest.
While the pitching was incredibly sharp, the Lightning offense was as explosive as ever, putting up a big five spot in the first inning to set the tone early on. Tommy Seidl (Harvard) led the game off with a booming double to center field, and his team never looked back. Gabriel Rincones picked up the first of his three RBI on the day with a base hit in the same frame. “I had a little more time to think about my at-bats,” said Rincones who was one of the Lightning’s extra hitters.
Seminole County had a few opportunities to bring home a run, but were unable to deliver a big hit with a man in scoring position, going 0 for 8 in those situations. Naphis Llanos (Lake Sumter) was the only batter to reach base more than once for his squad.
The Snappers may have not ended the season the way they had hoped, but can hang their hats on the fact that they made it within one win of the finals after starting off the season 1-4-1. As a group, they were an incredibly tough team to play against and forced their opponents to bring their A-game to beat them every time out there.
As for the Lightning, they will open up the Championship Series against the River Rats on Thursday at 11am. They will likely turn to Nathanial Henderson (Flagler) for game one on the road at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium to try and snag a win before the series heads over to Leesburg.