LEESBURG, Fla. – The Leesburg Lightning and Sanford River Rats head to Pat Thomas Stadium – Buddy Lowe Field tonight for Game Two of their best-of-three series. In order to keep their season alive, the Lightning must win to send the series back to Sanford on Friday night. First pitch is at 6 p.m.
After coming out victorious in 11 innings on Tuesday night against the Winter Garden Squeeze, Leesburg played another 11 innings on Wednesday night.
Trailing 5-3 late in the game, the Lightning pushed the River Rats to the brink and tied the game in the ninth to send it to extras. Austin Simmons tripled to lead-off the inning and tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Tanner Long.
“This team is made for the late game heroics,” Head Coach Rich Billings said. “They have a knack for making big plays and coming up with big hits late in the game.”
The Lightning faithful surely saw that on Tuesday night, but they fell short on Wednesday night — losing just their second extra innings game of the season (6-2).
“The stakes will be that much higher tomorrow night,” Billings said after the game. “We’ll have our home fans behind us louder than ever, but we have to make the plays and come up with the big hits if we want to have a chance.”
With 10 returning players from last year’s team, the Lightning are hungrier than ever to get back to Tropicana Field. Even more so, they’re hungry to get past the River Rats. Leesburg fell to Sanford in the 2015 Championship Game, 1-0.
“We have a lot of history with Sanford,” Billings said. “It’s no secret that we don’t like each other, which would make it even better to pick up a win tonight and then win in Sanford.”
First thing’s first though, we need to take care of business tonight.”
Lightning Starting Lineup
- Nixon – 2B
- A. Simmons – CF
- Scanlon – 1B
- C. Simmons – 3B
- Long – RF
- Bonilla – LF
- Baez – DH
- Mauer – C
- Pagliei – SS
On the mound: Brecklin