SANFORD, Fl - The Leesburg Lightning end their season with a tragic loss to the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs by a score of 11-3 in a deciding game three of the FCSL Championship Series in an eighth-inning mercy rule.
Winter Park led the entire game as they took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. After a five-run fourth inning, the Dawgs led 7-0 and coasted to victory, capturing their sixth FCSL championship.
In the eighth inning, Winter Park would score another four runs to extend their lead to eight runs, sealing the run-rule victory as Leesburg failed to record an out in the inning. It was an absolute downpour of offense as the Dawgs put together 11 runs on 14 hits.
The Lightning showed a bit of fight in the top of the seventh inning as center fielder Austin Brinling (North Florida) pulled a ball down the right field line with a pair of runners on base for a two-run triple to put Leesburg on the board. The very next batter, second baseman Gabriel Santiago (Coker) drove in the third run with an infield hit.
Eight different pitchers would throw for Leesburg in the loss as left-hander Matt Dadlani (Col. Central Florida) made the start and was given the loss as he allowed two runs on four hits through two and a third innings.
Tanner Walker (St. Johns River), Amir Asghar (Bethune Cookman), Justin Gay (Pasco Hernando), Ivan VanBeverhoudt Jr. (Anderson), Mason Morello (West point-Army), Casey Daiss (Pasco Hernando) and Connor Gleeson (Gardner Webb) would all pitch in the contest.
Gay went the longest of any reliever, hurling two and a third innings, allowing just two hits and striking out five. He finishes the season as the winningest pitcher in the Florida League with a 6-1 overall record.
The Bolts complete their summer with a 26-13 record and finish second overall in the regular season and runner-up in the FCSL Championship. This playoff run marks the third-straight championship series that Leesburg has participated in.
A huge thanks to the entire Leesburg coaching staff - Rich Billings, Rich Billings Sr, Matthew Coles and Jarrett Backus for their dedication to the players and the program as a whole in another extremely successful season. Leesburg will return bigger and better in 2023 for another championship run.