LEESBURG, Fla. -- The Leesburg Lightning (12-15) took on the DeLand Suns (20-9) on Tuesday night at Pat Thomas Stadium for game two of the series between the two clubs.
The Suns scratched the first run across on a Garett Wallace (South Carolina Upstate) RBI single. DeLand was on top 1-0 after two quick innings.
The third inning was the start of a big night for DeLand’s Joe Burke (Kentucky Wesleyan), as he crushed a home run well over the left field fence. The homer was a two-run shot that gave the Suns a 3-0 lead.
The Lightning wouldn’t stay off the board long, as newcomer Nick Lewis (Valdosta State) brought home Max Law (North Florida), who singled earlier in the inning. The RBI single cut the Suns’ lead to 3-1.
The Suns added two runs in the top of the sixth on a Hunter Fornari (FGCU) RBI double and a Peter Hutzal (Marshall) run-scoring single to extend the DeLand advantage to 5-1.
As the game moved to the seventh, Joe Burker continued to torment the Lightning. The Kentucky Wesleyan product hit a towering solo bomb, his second of the game and fifth of the season, that pushed the Suns’ lead to 6-1.
In the home half of the seventh inning, the Bolts squandered a huge opportunity to climb back in the game. After the Lightning loaded the bases with nobody out, the Bolts struck out twice and popped up to the catcher to end the inning with nothing to show for it.
The Lightning did not go quietly in the ninth, as they mustered up two big runs in the eighth to keep the Suns within striking distance. Sean Mootrey (Georgia Gwinnett) and Parker Pillsbury (Chipola) each recorded RBI singles to cut the deficit to just 6-3 after eight.
The Suns added an always important insurance run in the ninth, as Joe Burke continued to torture Lightning pitching. His looping liner into center field drove in a run and extended the Suns’ lead to 7-3 as the game entered the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Lightning once again loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. The Lightning got an RBI single from Jarrett Backus (King College) and a sacrifice fly from Pablo Cedeno (UCF) to cut the DeLand lead to 7-5, but that’s all the Lightning could get. The Suns would escape with the 7-5 win.
Lightning head coach Rich Billings said that the club has to put up better at bats with runners on. “Every inning that we have runners on counts,” Billings said. “We get to the ninth with our backs against the wall and we start fighting more. We need to do that in the early innings as well.”
Jaxon Peebles (Alabama)