SANFORD, Fla. – Following a dramatic walk-off win over the Winter Garden Squeeze in 11 innings on Tuesday night, the Leesburg Lightning will now move on to face the top seeded Sanford River Rats in a best-of-three series. Game 1 will be played tonight at 7 p.m. at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium.
The Lightning displayed a flair for the dramatic during the 2015 FCSL playoffs and through one game of the 2016 postseason, the flair has continued.
With two outs, a two strike count, and the winning run 90 feet away, Josh Pagliei lined a walk-off single over the head of Winter Garden’s shortstop to keep Leesburg’s season alive. The crowd at Pat Thomas Stadium – Buddy Lowe Field exploded with excitement as the Lightning lived to see another day.
“This series with Sanford is going to be a lot of fun,” Pagliei said. “Hopefully we get the win in Game 1 so we can play in front of our home crowd one last time, with a chance to win the series.”
Leesburg and Sanford matched up rather competitively during the regular season — Sanford taking the season series 5-4. Head Coach Rich Billings and his team took two of three from Sanford when the season was on the line and their playoff chances dwindling.
The regular season aside, the Lightning surged into the postseason winning seven of their last 10 and are undoubtedly, one of the more dangerous teams in the FCSL playoffs. They caught fire at just the right time and are currently riding a heap of emotion, and incredible momentum.
“Sanford was the team that we overcame the most adversity against this season,” Billings said. There’s going to be a lot of intensity in this series.”
“Anything can happen in the playoffs, but this team has an incredible amount of heart and is prepared for all.”
Lightning Starting Lineup
- Nixon – 2B
- A. Simmons – CF
- Long – RF
- C. Simmons – 3B
- Bonilla – DH
- Baez – C
- Hanlon – LF
- Mauer – 1B
- Pagliei – SS
On the mound: Walker Burgess