The Leesburg Lightning defeated defending Florida Collegiate Summer League champion, Clermont Mavericks, 5-1 Monday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to capture their second championship in three years.
The Lightning had an impressive run in the postseason, giving up just two runs in three games. They continued the trend of two-out runs, collecting three in the decisive seventh inning.
Rick Kalgstein (Polk CC) started, pitching 5 2/3 thirds innings, allowing four hits, one run, and striking out three. Spencer Hale (Furman) got his first win of the season working 1 1/3 innings, allowing no hits or runs and striking out one. Nick Aranas (USC-Aiken) went 2-for-3 with two base hits and one run scored.
The action picked up in the fifth when the Lightning took the lead after four scoreless innings. Chris Berset (Michigan) reached on a walk after Evan Taylor (Lenoir-Rhyne) popped out to center field. Aranas stepped up to deliver a single up the middle to advanced Berset to third. Mike Albaladejo (Florida Atlantic) had an RBI groundout to score Berset.
But the Mavericks also picked up momentum in the sixth. Tyrone Wethers (New Orleans) advanced to first on a walk and stole second. Chase Okey (Lake Sumter CC) delivered a single to center field to score Wethers, tying the score 1-1. Tyler Benzel (Louisiana-Lafayette) advanced on a walk, putting Okey on second, and Ryan Semeniuk (Wake Forest) singled to load up the bases. Hale relieved Kalgstein and got the Lightning out of the jam when Evan Stermer (Palm Beach CC) popped out to second base.
For the second time, the Lightning took the lead in seventh. Taylor reached on a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a Berset sacrifice groundout. Aranas singled and stole second. Taylor scored on an Albaladejo sacrifice fly to center field. Danny Baatz (UNC-Asheville) continued the action with a single to right-center, scoring Aranas. Nick DelGuidice (Florida Atlantic) then singled, but a two-run throwing error advanced DelGuidice and Baatz home and put the Lightning ahead 5-1.
Jonathan Bolt (USC-Aiken), in the final game of his baseball career, relieved Robert Lake (Winthrop) in the ninth to pitch the final out of the game and struck out Stermer.
The Lightning started the season with a three-game losing streak, but ended the season with three consecutive wins when they needed them most.