The Lightning (4-6) and the Sea Dogs (5-6) faced off in Tuesday's featured game at Academy Park. The winner would move into third place in the IMG Wood Bat League Standings. From the start, you could tell that both teams knew that a change in the standings was on the line. Both pitchers looked to be locked in early on.
Cas Dean started the game for the Lightning and scattered three hits in three innings to keep the Sea Dogs off the board, striking out six in the first three innings and eight overall. The Sea Dogs countered with Mike Sinnott. The Lightning scratched a run off Sinnott in the first with a great individual performance by Alejo Lopez. Lopez doubled and then proceeded to steal third and would later score on a wild pitch.
Sinnott shook off the early run and retired the Lightning in order in the second inning.
In the third, Nick Lucas was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Alejo Lopez came through in the clutch and delivered an RBI single to score Lucas. At the end of three innings, the Lightning had jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
The Sea Dogs turned to âsmall ballâ in the fourth to scratch across their first run. Charlie McElveen singled and Travis Connolly's sacrifice bunt advanced courtesy runner Franklin Paulino. Paulino later scored on an infield single by Brian Srock. However, Cas Dean limited the damage by recording a strike out with runners on second and third to end the top half of the fourth. Sinnott quickly got his team back in the dugout retiring the first three Lightning players he faced in the bottom of the fourth.
For the next two innings, the bats were silenced due to solid defense and solid pitching until the . Franklin Paulino came on in relief of Sinnott for the Sea Dogs. Alejo Lopez contributed to the solid defense by turning a dynamic double play single-handedly in the top of the sixth.
In the bottom half of the sixth, the Lightning increased their one run lead when Mack Meyer smacked a double with one out to jump start the offense. With two outs, Bryant Moore hit a ground ball to third but the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. A fielder's interference call allowed Meyer to score from third on the play. Gregario Morales followed with a walk to set the stage for Tim Lawson. Lawson delivered a two RBI triple, bringing the score to 5-1.
Cas Dean continued to shut down the Sea Dogs in the seventh to preserve the 5-1 lead.
The Sea Dogs came to life in the top of the eighth. A lead off walk to Phil Susser followed by a double by Joe Potts ignited the Sea Dogs. Brian Feltman followed with a walk to load the bases, bringing the whole dugout to their feet. After a fielder's choice and a walk, the bases were loaded again for Charlie McElveen. McElveen singled to put one run across and Travis Connolly followed with a 2 RBI single to right field. One of the League Leader's in batting, Luke Miller, stepped to the plate with a chance to give the Sea Dogs the lead. In an unexpected move, Miller laid down a bunt and beat out the throw to first with a head first dive. The top half of the inning ended with the Sea Dogs taking a 6-5 lead.
The Lightning responded in the bottom half when Chris Delorenz singled to score Cooper to tie up the game. Bryant Moore followed with a frozen rope to center field. Delorenz was waved around third but an accurate throw and a crucial tag by Brian Feltman prevented the walk-off victory for the Lightning.
The game would end in a tie due to time constraints.
The Sea Dogs remain half a game ahead of the Lightning in the standings. The Sea Dogs move to 5-6-1 with the Lightning 4-6-1.
In other league action:
Hurricanes 8 7 0
Manatees 7 6 0
WP - Dakota Mills - 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 K
Top Performer - Dakota Mills - 2-2, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI
Lightning 6 9 4
Sea Dogs 6 10 1
Top Performer - Charlie McElveen - 4-4, R, RBI
Marauders 5 5 1
Conquistadors 3 3 0
WP - Philip Dilandro - 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 6 K
Top Performer - James Stiltner - 1-2, R, RBI
League Standings: (thru Wednesday, 7/14)
Team W L T GB
Marauders 10 2 0 0
Manatees 7 4 0 2.5
Lightning 5 6 1 4.5
Sea Dogs 4 6 1 5
Conquistadors 4 8 0 6
Hurricanes 4 8 0 6