The Bolt Breakdown (6/3-6/8): Looking Ahead At The First Full Week of Lightning Baseball

The Bolt Breakdown (6/3-6/8): Looking Ahead At The First Full Week of Lightning Baseball

(Leesburg, Fla.)-The Leesburg Lightning are back in action tonight at 7 p.m. EST following a series win over the Sanford River Rats this past weekend to open up the 2024 Florida Collegiate Summer League season, but the team will enter their first full week stretch on the season calendar.

Recapping The Week

It was a favorable start for last season's FCSL champions, taking the first two opening games of the series against the River Rats and plating 33 runs across the two victories. 

Jordy Oriach and Collin Priest put together multi-hit performances, going 2-4 in Sanford on Thursday night, while Ryland Bozenhard delivered a superb outing, going three scoreless innings before transitioning into the bullpen the rest of the night.

The River Rats would find some momentum in the late frames, grabbing 5 runs in the final two innings, but Ethan Stephens shut the door on the River Rats to deliver the team's first victory in 2024 and in the month of May. 

That same success would transition into Friday night's home opener, where the Lightning saw 25 runs come across to score, a single-game franchise record, 8 of the 9 starters reaching base at least once during the shortened victory.

However, the River Rats would respond to Leesburg's runaway victory on Friday, grabbing a 9-1 win over the Lightning in the series finale, holding the Bolts to only 7 hits and 1 run in the contest.

Even after Saturday's loss, Rich Billings has been happy about the early performance of the team.

"Yeah, really good," Rich Billings said. "I still think that; you know these kinds of games happen. They happen every summer, even when you feel like you're really good. These kinds of games still happen. But you know, we'll figure some things out. We'll overcome it. We'll make some small adjustments. We'll see how we do on Monday."

Looking Ahead

Entering the week at 2-1, the Leesburg Lightning will meet the Winter Garden Squeeze for the first time this season, followed by a three-game set in Winter Park beginning on Thursday and wrapping up Saturday night in Winter Park.

The Winter Garden Squeeze were able to grab 2 out of 3 over the Orlando Snappers in their opening weekend series, run ruling Orlando 12-2 on Friday night 12-2 before grabbing a 7-2 victory on Sunday evening.

The Snappers would take the Saturday night potential series clincher, 8-6. However, Orlando wasn't able to win back-to-back over Winter Garden in the series.

The Squeeze have been led offensively by hitters Zack Stokes and Max McClusky, both of whom lead the league in batting average so far this season. Stokes is 3-4 in 3 games played for Winter Garden and has driven in 5 RBIs early on this season, while McClusky has stayed patient at the plate, drawing 5 walks, with 2 resulting in being hit by the pitch.

Winter Garden has also had the two longest outings so far from their starters, Micah Takac and Tommy Groom. Both pitchers only allowed 1 run combined on 3 hits and struck out 13 batters total between them.

As for Winter Park, the team also saw solid work out of starter Tyler Mecchella, who also threw 4 innings of scoreless baseball, only allowing 1 hit and striking out 5 in the Friday opener for the Diamond Dawgs.

Offensively, Joel Collado has started 3-5 on the season, including drawing a walk in 2 games played for the St. Cloud, Fla., native.

Winter Park didn't get off on the right foot as hoped, dropping all three games to DeLand over the weekend as they look to try and grab win #1 tonight against the Sanford River Rats at home.

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