Leesburg, FL – On fire does not even begin to describe Joshua Shapiro (Marshall) tonight. The southpaw from Columbus, Ohio threw a complete game, two-hit shutout when his team needed it most to propel the Leesburg Lightning to a 1-0 series lead over the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
The Diamond Dawgs could only manage one hit off of Shapiro through the first eight innings, but Leesburg also struggled, only racking up six hits in the game.
The first five innings flew by with both Shapiro and Winter Park JP Williams (Eastern Florida State College) dealing their best stuff right off the bat.
The Lightning finally broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning after singles from Wes Weeks (North Florida) and Tanner May (North Florida) put two runners on with only one out, and Jose Crisostomo (Miami Dade) drew a walk to load the bases. Frank Niemann (Tulane) drew another walk to force Weeks across the plate, but Diamond Dawgs reliever Maxwell Clark (Undecided) got Matthew Wiseman (San Jacinto) to pop out to get out of the inning with minimal damage done.
“We have to hit. We have to put together some better at-bats and stop giving away at-bats,” Lightning Head Coach Rich Billings said after his team barely scraped across just one run tonight. “We didn’t do a great job of hitting with runners in scoring position and there’s a lot of stuff we have to clean up. Hopefully, we figure it out before tomorrow night.”
Leesburg threatened again in the bottom of the seventh when Tanner May hit a moonshot with runners on second and third, but it landed in foul territory and May eventually struck out to end the inning.
That one run turned out to be all that the Lightning needed as Josh Shapiro closed out the game by forcing Robert Scott (Lake Sumter CC) to ground into a double play. Shapiro’s final line was 9IP, 2H, 0R, 8K, CG.
“That was hands down the best pitching performance that I have seen as the Lightning coach, maybe as a college coach,” Coach Billings said of Shapiro’s performance. “When you only have 100 pitch limit and you go out and throw a complete nine-inning game and only give up two hits, that’s impressive. That word doesn’t even do it justice. That was awesome.”
“It’s just things clicking (at the right time),” Shapiro said of his two straight shutouts. “I’ve been pitching a lot this year, in the spring and everything, and I feel really good right now. Everything is firing on all cylinders.”
Leesburg will look to turn up the offense tomorrow night in Game 2 against the Diamond Dawgs, which kicks off at 7:00 p.m. in Winter Park.
Matt Holzapfel (Elon Universit)