LEESBURG, Fla. -- The Lightning (12-14) looked to get the second half of the season off to a good start as the club played host to the DeLand Suns (19-9).
The Bolts started the contest off with a bang. After a perfect inning from Lightning starting pitcher Josh Hancock (Florida A&M), the Lightning struck first when Tate Mathis (North Alabama) came around to score on an error after a one-out double.
After Hancock tossed his third consecutive scoreless inning, Mathis recorded his second double in just three innings of play. Mathis then came around to score when Cage Cox (Valdosta State) dropped a single into right field that allowed Mathis to just beat the throw from the DeLand right fielder. After three, the Lightning held a 2-0 lead.
The Suns threatened in the fourth, as they loaded the bases with one out. Hancock was not phased. The Florida A&M Rattler forced a ground ball to the shortstop, Edward Surinach (Embry-Riddle) who initiated a 6-4-3 double play to escape the inning without a run allowed.
After a lightning delay, the Bolts returned to action and put up two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tanner Clark (North Florida) scored on a wild pitch and Edward Surinach (Embry-Riddle) singled home a run and the Lightning led 4-0 after five.
The Suns did not stop fighting, as they were able to cut the Lightning lead in half, 4-2, in the top of the sixth. However, the Lightning proved resilient, as they responded with a run on a wild pitch and a Clark two-RBI single that brought home Surinach and Mootrey.
The Suns got one back in the eighth, but Stephen Wilmer (East Carolina) shut the door in the ninth to preserve the 7-3 Lightning victory.
Tate Mathis went 5-5 with two doubles in the game, breaking the Lightning record for hits in a single game. Mathis attributed his big night to his coaches’ teaching. “I owe it to Coach Billings and Coach Billings Sr. for working with me this summer and especially today before the game,” Mathis said. “They really helped me out with my swing. I felt really comfortable tonight at the plate and was seeing the ball well.”
“Tate was unbelievable tonight,” head coach Rich Billings said postgame. “Just unreal. He was fantastic.”
Billings “We got really good pitching tonight,” he said. “We got good starting pitching from Josh (Hancock) and good work from the bullpen. We hit when we needed to hit, so that was good to see.”
Jaxon Peebles (Alabama)