Because opening night was cancelled due to weather between the Dawgs and River Rats, the 14-inning doubleheader was scheduled and the Dawgs remained perfect on the season against the River Rats, beating them in two highly competitive games. The first game ended 7-5, while the second one ended 9-4.
The week actually began as it did for most everyone, three days of rain and stormy weather.
The Sanford River Rats finally got on the field on Wednesday in Winter Park at Alfond Stadium, but they continued to struggle in early innings, allowing the Diamond Dawgs to score six runs in the first four innings en route to an 8-3 defeat.
The Rats allowed two runs in both the first and second innings to find themselves in an early hole. Sanford walked six batters and hit one in those two stanzas.
Corey Tufts (Embry-Riddle) took the loss for the Rats in just 1.1 innings of work. Tufts walked five and allowed four runs (three earned) in his outing.
The early deficit was too much for the Rats, who were unable to find much rhythm offensively. The club scored their first run in the fourth inning. The RBI came off the bat of Nico Delerme (East Stroudsburg) who brought home Daniel Seeba (USC-Upstate) on a two-out single.
The Rats scored again in the fifth after Drew Weeks (North Florida) led off the inning with a triple that nearly cleared the 405-foot center field fence at Alfond Stadium. One batter later, Kevin Wortman (Florida Tech) singled to bring Weeks home.
Wortman provided one of the highlights of the young season in the seventh inning. With Edward Medina at the plate for the Dawgs, Wortman tracked a fly ball to the biggest part of the park and dove into the fence to make a spectacular catch.
Seeba and Weeks led the way with the sticks for the Rats, combining for four hits and a pair of runs. Wortman, Delerme and Jordan Strittmatter (USF) each added an RBI.
Back on Sanford on Thursday, the first game went back and forth and included three ties before the Dawgs came back late from a 5-3 deficit to pull out the win.
After the leadoff batter in the sixth grounded out, the Dawgs were down to their last five outs. Zach Persky (Rollins Col) started the comeback for the Dawgs with a double to right center. After Evan Rivera (Florida State College) singled to left, the Dawgs started to chip away.
Edward Medina (Des Moines Area CC) drove in the Dawgs first run of the inning with a single up to middle bringing in Persky. Ted Blackman (, Lake Brantley High School, Coastal Carolina U) then tied up the score on a ground out to short that brought in Rivera. With the game tied and two outs in the inning, Daniel Sweet (Polk State College) came through in the clutch and drove in the go ahead run with a broken bat blooper just out of the reach of the Rats second basemen.
Kevin Gude (Bethune-Cookman), who entered the game in the fifth, pitched a scoreless two innings only allowing one hit and striking out one got the win. This was Gude’s second win of the year.
The Dawgs got an insurance run in the top of the seventh on an RBI double by Tyler Rocklein (Florida Atlantic), who was playing after getting a three game rest.
Stephen Holden (Lake Sumter CC) entered in the bottom half of the inning and recorded his first save of the season getting the Rats to go one, two, three.
Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, the hosts finally saw their bats come to life.
Ryan Woodrey led off with a walk, followed by a single from Spencer Hermann and Weeks was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.
After a pitching change, Wortman hit a grounder to short, forcing Hermann at third, but Woodrey crossed the plate with the tying run.
Wortman and Weeks pulled off a double steal as Tyler Lesch drew a walk and Seeba followed with a sacrifice fly to right to put the River Rats ahead before Sam Halpern capped the three-run inning with a single.
Wortman was 2-for-3, including his second double of the season, scored two runs and drove in one, while Hermann was 2-for-3, Halpern had the RBI single in four trips to the plate, Keith Curcio had a single and Seeba had a pair of RBI sacrifice flies.
The Dawgs found themselves needing another comeback late in the second game of the doubleheader as well. After being held scoreless for the first five innings and only managing two hits off Sanford starter Harrison Hukari, the Dawgs found themselves down 2-0.
However after Hukari did not return in the sixth, the Dawgs greeted the Rats' bullpen with eight hits good for nine runs over the final two innings.
Daniel Sweet got to the bullpen first, singling to right. Michael Danner (Tampa U) followed Sweet with a single to right as well. Trying to make something happen, the Dawgs executed a perfect double steal. After a strikeout, Michael Basil (Indiana U) came up with another clutch two out hit for the Dawgs. On a sharp ball hit to right, third base coach Joe Bellini waved around Danner knowing this may be the only time the Dawgs will have a chance to tie the game. Luckily, the throw was up the third base line and Danner slid home safely.
Cary Baxter (Auburn U) who was now off the hook for the loss returned in the bottom of the sixth hoping to keep the game tied. However, after walking the leadoff hitter (Seeba) of the inning and a one-out single to Delerme, Baxter found himself in some trouble.
Baxter got the groundball he wanted from Jordan Strittmatter but it was hit too slowly to turn two, and Seeba scored to put the Rats back on top, 3-2.
The top of the seventh started innocently enough with a fly out and a walk. But then the Dawgs struck.
Edwin Medina got his first hit of the second game, hitting a rope down the right field line that brought in the tying run. After a groundout and a walk to Sweet, the Dawgs best hitter on the season came up in Michael Danner. The River Rats wanted no part of him and decided to walk him intentionally, filling up the bases for Rocklein. And once again in the seventh, like he did in the early game, Rocklein hit a double bringing in two.
The Dawgs got Baxter off the hook again and this time even managed to put him in a spot to be the winning pitcher.
The Dawgs didn’t put the brakes on either. Following Rocklein, Michael Basil drove in one on a single, and Sean Trent (State Col of Florida Manatee-Sarasota) really put the game out of reach on his two-run triple. Trent ended up scoring on the play because the throw escaped the third basemen and extended the Dawgs lead to 9-3. The Dawgs put up a crooked number in the seventh and grabbed the game right out of the River Rats' hands.
Stephen Holden entered the game in the bottom of the inning. After allowing a lead off home run to Weeks, his second of the season, the final score was 9-4.
Seeba was 2-for-3 in the second game, including his fifth double of the season, while Derlerme was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Tommy Williams was also 2-for-3.
The other two hits for Sanford was the home run from Weeks and Halpern’s second double of the season.
The River Rats continued a four-game homestand by hosting the Orlando Freedom on Friday and will close out the set with a against the Leesburg Lightning tonight (Saturday) at 7 p.m. It will be ‘Bark at the Park’ Night at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium.
Sanford will begin the new week on Sunday with a make-up game in Orlando against the Freedom on Orel Hershiser Field at the Payne Stewart Sports Complex at The First Academy at 5 p.m.
After taking off on Monday, the Rats will continue a 3-game trip by going back to Hershiser Field on Tuesday and then travel to Leesburg to face the Lightning on Wednesday for a Fourth of July celebration on Buddy Lowe Field at Pat Thomas Stadium. Both of those games are set to begin at 7 p.m.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the league:
Saturday, June 30
7 p.m. _ Orlando Monarchs at DeLand Suns; Orlando Freedom at Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Sunday, July 1
1 p.m. _ Leesburg Lightning at Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
5 p.m. _ Orlando Monarchs at DeLand Suns.
* Tickets will be accepted on July 1 from the June 9 games that were originally scheduled. For more information visit www.floridaleague.com.
Monday, July 2
7 p.m. _ Winter Park Diamond Dawgs at Orlando Freedom.
Tuesday, July 3
7 p.m. _ Orlando Monarchs at Leesburg Lightning; Winter Park Diamond Dawgs at DeLand Suns.
Wednesday, July 4
7 p.m. _ Orlando Monarchs at DeLand Suns.
DELAND SUNS FIREWORKS NIGHT
The DeLand Suns will be hosting Fireworks Night sponsored by Bright House Networks, this Tuesday, July 3, at 7 p.m.
The Suns will face off against the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs as they continue their 2012 Florida Collegiate Summer League campaign. At the conclusion of the game, fans are invited to enjoy Fireworks provided by Four Seasons Display.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early, gates open at 6 p.m., as a large turnout is expected and parking is limited around DeLand's Conrad Park. Parking will be available for $5 in three select parking lots near the stadium.
For tickets or more information visit www.floridaleague.com.