Leesburg, FL - Best record in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, the top seed in the playoffs, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the longest winning streak in league history. The Leesburg Lightning are champions of the regular season after a 4-3 week, but all of the accolades listed above will mean a whole lot more if they can top it all off with a league championship, according to Head Coach Rich Billings.
Weekly Team Leaders
(These numbers only reflect players' performances throughout the past week, not the entire season)
- Batting Avg: Jay Prather - 0.400 (4th in the FCSL)
- Hits: Jay Prather - 10 (1st in the FCSL)
- Runs: Luke Brown - 7 (1st in the FCSL)
- RBIs: Matthew Wiseman - 7 (1st in the FCSL)
- HRs: Matthew Wiseman - 1 (1st in the FCSL)
- SOs: Hunter Caudelle - 6 (2nd in the FCSL)
- Innings Pitched: Matthew Coles - 9.2 (1st in the FCSL)
Best Performances of the Week
7/23 vs Seminole County Scorpions - Frank Niemann and Matthew Coles
Two players in new situations shined this week in game one of a doubleheader against Seminole County. Niemann, who has only been with the Lightning for about two weeks now, went 3-4 with three singles, driving in one run and scoring two more in his best game with Leesburg at that point. Coles, making his first start of the season after 14 relief appearances, was phenomenal on the mound for the Lightning. He threw six innings in the seven-inning game, giving up only one run on four hits and striking out three Scorps batters.
7/23 vs Seminole County Scorpions - Jay Prather
In a game that ended up being a walk-off Scorpions win, Prather powered the Leesburg offense to seven runs through the first four innings. He went 2-4 with two RBIs and two runs while he continues to fill in at shortstop in place of the injured Tanner May. Prather will likely return to his usual position at third base once May is healthy enough to return to the lineup.
7/25 vs Seminole County Scorpions - Joshua Shapiro and the entire Lightning offense
Frank Niemann went 4-4, Tanner Clark was 3-4, and six Lightning players had multiple RBIs en route to a 13-0 rout of the visiting Scorpions. The offensive effort helped back up an absolute gem by ace starter Joshua Shapiro, who missed a perfect game by one hit, a single through the right side of the infield just past the glove of Sean Mootrey. Shapiro needed only 60 pitches to get through the entire six-inning game, which was scheduled for seven but ended with the Lightning winning via the mercy rule one inning early.
Making his longest relief appearance of the season, second-year Lightning player Dom Jeancola went three full innings and allowed only one run on two hits. Jeancola was the unsung hero of the game after he stranded the runner who started on second base in the tenth inning due to international tiebreaker rules, something that pitchers have rarely been able to accomplish since the rule was adopted. Tucker Rayburn backed up his pitcher's heroics with a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth inning, scoring Jose Crisostomo and beating the Rats 4-3.
Matt Coles, drawing his second start of the week and the summer, had another outstanding outing on Saturday night to close out the regular season with a Lightning win. Coles went 3 2/3 innings, allowed four hits but no runs as he combined with four relievers to shutout the Rats and secure a 3-0 win. Brunnig, Knight, Davenport, and Reyes all held the Rats without a hit as Davenport earned the win and Reyes earned the save. The game marked Louis Davenport's return from dental surgery, which help him out of action for about a week. It was great to see Louis get some game action in before the playoffs begin, and prove that his week off did not impact his stellar play so far this season.
All the Lightning can do as of right now is watch and wait. The #1 overall seed will play either the 4-seed Winter Park Diamond Dawgs or 5-seed Seminole County Scorpions, who will play a play-in game on July 30 in Winter Park. Leesburg will be home against one of the teams on July 31 for game one of their playoff series, and away for game two on August 1. Game three of the best of three series will only be played if the series is tied at one game apiece through two games, and that game will be on August 2.
Final Regular Season Standings
Matt Holzapfel (Elon University)