Sanford (12-18) and the Monarchs (13-14) volleyed the lead three times before the River Rats used a pair of big outbursts in the middle innings to pull out the victory.
Sam Halpern gave the hosts the early lead when he launched his second home run of the season with one out in the bottom of the second inning.
The Monarchs came storming back to take the lead on a two-out, three-run home run off the bat of David Lee.
Orlando held that lead until the bottom of the fifth inning when Spencer Hermann, normally a starting pitcher for Sanford, led off the frame with his first home run of the season.
One out later, Lee Howard walked and went to third on a wild pickoff attempt before scoring the game-tying run on a single by Andrew Brodbeck.
The hosts then took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With two out and no one on, Halpern and Hermann drew back-to-back walks before Tommy Williams singled in Halpern with the go-ahead run. Williams then stole second as Howard drew a walk to load the bases and Brodbeck ripped a two-run single to make the score 6-3.
The Monarchs closed the gap to 6-5 by plating two runs in the top of the seventh inning, but the River Rats again had an answer, getting those runs back in the bottom of the eighth inning with the help of several Monarchs errors.
Howard led off the frame and got all the way to second on an error before moving over to third on another bad pickoff attempt. After Tyler Lesch was intentionally walked, Howard scored scored on a ground out by Jordan Strittmatter and Kevin Wortman followed with a single to right that was booted, allowing Lesch to score.
John Sever recorded his second win of the year for Sanford, allowing two runs over three innings of relief of starter Kyle Bird, striking out six, walking four and giving up two hits. Eddie Abramson worked a scoreless eighth inning, allowing one single, and Strittmatter came on to earn the save with a
Perfect ninth that included a pair of strike outs.
Shawn Ferris (1-2) took the loss for the Orlando Monarchs. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings, walked four, struck out six, and allowed five runs.
The River Rats were at home to host the DeLand Suns on Friday and will travel to Winter Park today (Saturday) to face the Diamond Dawgs at Alfond Stadium at 7 p.m.
Sanford will return for home games on Sunday at 5 p.m. against DeLand and the Monarchs will come to Sanford on Monday for a 7 p.m. contest.
After taking Tuesday off, the River Rats will host Winter Park at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Here is a recap of Sanford’s games leading up to the All-Star Break.
RIVER RATS 11-12, FREEDOM 8-3
Tuesday, July 10
The Sanford River Rats swept a double header on the road against the Orlando Freedom as the bats came alive finding the Rats score 23 runs in the two seven inning games. Sanford hit a combined five home runs in the two games, including a seventh inning grand slam that capped a River Rat comeback in game one.
Sanford won the first game in a close 11-8 victory, before blowing open game two to grab a 12-3 win.
Tyler Lesch (USC-Upstate) put the first Rats’ run on the board with his first home run of the season in the third inning. Tommy Williams (UCF) drew a two-out walk as the first base runner for Sanford. Lesch followed with the shot to left center field to open the scoring, 2-0.
The Freedom answered with a home run of their own in the bottom half of the third as Mike Spano (FAU) knocked a solo shot to center field, but the Rats quickly responded as Sam Halpern (Barry) ripped an opposite field solo home run to push the lead to 3-1 in the fourth.
Not done in the inning, Kevin Wortman (Florida Tech) reached via a one-out single and advanced to third on a passed ball and Keith Curcio (Florida Southern) single. Jordan Stritmatter (USF) induced a groundout to plate Wortman and get his first RBI of the game, giving the Rats a 4-1 advantage.
Quick to respond, the Freedom put up five runs in the bottom of the inning. With one run already in, Mark Nelson (FAU) lined a bases-loaded double into right center field to clear the bases. Skip Kovar (Seminole State) followed with an RBI single to plate Nelson and close the book on starting Rats’ pitcher Kyle Bird (Florida State).
Bird finished the game with 3.1 innings pitched, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and four strikeouts.
Drew Weeks (North Florida) brought the game within one run, at 6-5, in the top of the fifth with his team-leading fifth home run of the season. Following a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to extend the Freedom lead to 8-5, Nico Delerme registered a pinch-hit, two-out single to plate Wortman, who reached on a hit-by-pitch.
Down by two runs in their final at-bat of a seven-inning game because of the double header, the Rats were able to put together a rally, which loaded the bases with just one out. Wortman worked a full count and was hit by the pitch for a second time on the day to grab an RBI, plating Lesch to move the score to 8-7. One batter later, Curcio changed that deficit into an advantage with one swing of the bat. Curcio launched a one-out grand slam over the right field wall to give the Rats an 11-8 lead.
Jordan Stritmatter (USF) came in to close out the game on the mound in the seventh and was able to escape a single and an error to get his first save of the season. Alex Graham earned his third win of the season. Graham pitched just a third of an inning, but came in at the right time to become the pitcher of record.
The Rats got on the board quickly, beginning in the second inning. Sanford tallied for runs in the frame while recording just two hits. Kevin Wortman (Florida Tech) got things started with a walk and Keith Curcio followed with a free pass of his own. The tandem advanced on an error before a wild pitch brought home Wortman for the first run of the game.
Curcio came home in the same at bat when Ryan Woodrey (Nova Southeastern) struck out but advanced to first on a dropped third strike. One out later, Tommy Williams and Tyler Lesch earned first base on a pair of infield singles to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Drew Weeks (North Florida) brought Woodrey home and an error scored Williams, giving the Rats a 4-0 lead.
After the Freedom scored one run in the bottom of the inning, the Rats opened up the score with another four-spot on the scoreboard. The inning was capped by Lesch’s second home run of the double header, this one in the form of a two-run shot. After the Freedom added another run in the third, the Rats enjoyed an 8-2 advantage.
Sanford added a pair of runs in the fifth inning after a pair of walks led to a fielder’s choice hit by Weeks to bring home Williams. Nico Delerme tacked on the other run with a single to bring home Weeks and extend the Rats’ lead to 10-2.
The Freedom added a run in the sixth, however the Rats would respond in the top of the seventh. Wortman knocked a two-out RBI, double which was followed by a Curcio single to plate another and give Sanford a 12-3 lead.
That would be the last of the scoring as the Freedom went quietly in the bottom of the seventh.
Brett Allen (Embry-Riddle) became the pitcher of record, picking up the win for the Rats. Jason Boyer (Florida Tech) started the contest, going three innings and striking out seven.
DIAMOND DAWGS 12, RIVER RATS 1
Wednesday, July 11
In a day full of celebrations, from assistant coach Matt Allegra’s birthday to Cary Baxter being awarded the pitcher of the week, the Dawgs topped it all off by breaking the league stolen base record of 101 in a matter of only 24 games. As well as breaking the record, the Dawgs defeated the Sanford River Rats, 12-1, and extended their winning streak to eight.
Entering the game, the Dawgs were only three stolen bases from breaking the record. They managed to surpass that in the first inning alone. The scoring started with the second batter of the game. Michael Danner (Tampa), who is arguably the leagues’ MVP for the first half of the season, went deep with his fourth home run on the season.
Following Danner, Tyler Rocklein (Florida Atlantic) doubled to right center. After stealing third, the Dawgs 100th stolen base on the year, Zach Persky (Rollins) walked and tied the record by stealing second. Michael Basil (Indiana) followed with a single bringing in both runners. Coach Kevin Davidson wasted no time sending Basil, who was off on the first pitch. Basil slid in safe breaking the record set a few years back.
Jarred Smith (State College of Florida) drove in the Dawgs fourth run of the game and his seventh overall on the season with a double to left. The Dawgs added to the record with Smith stealing third.
The Dawgs didn’t stop there either. In the second after reaching on an error, Daniel Sweet (Polk State) stole his 15th base on the year. After back to back sac flies, the Dawgs led 5-0. The Dawgs didn’t score for the next two innings but they did steal one more base in the third by Rocklein.
In the fifth after reaching on a walk, Danner stole his 21st and 22nd bases of the year. Danner was then driven in by Tanner Blackman (Stetson) who entered the game in the second in a double switch, replacing his brother who was taken out due to a nagging injury.
The Dawgs added to their 6-0 lead with three more in the sixth, thanks to an RBI double by Danner and a double steal by Edwin Medina (Des Moines Area CC) and Sweet.
Evan Incinelli (North Florida) had his best outing for the Dawgs thus far, going six innings, and only allowing two hits and two walks while striking out 10. With the win, Incinelli is now 3-0 on the year with a 1.57 ERA.
The Dawgs lost their shut out in the seventh after Keith Curcio (Florida Southern) hit his third home run of the season off the Dawgs bullpen. However, that was the only run given up all night by the Dawgs.
The game was called in the bottom half of the seventh after AC Carter (Seminole State Col) hit a two run home run bringing the score to 12-1. The game was called because there is a 10-run rule in the league after seven innings.
“This is how our team can play when we are hitting on all strides,” Davidson said. “Everything was going good for us tonight from our pitching to our hitting. The box score is self-explanatory.”
RIVER RATS 11, FREEDOM 9
Thursday, July 12
The Sanford River Rats overcame an early 6-0 deficit to earn a much-needed victory over the Orlando Freedom on Thursday. The Rats won 11-9 after reeling off 11 unanswered runs in the third and fourth innings.
“I was trying to sit there and put together a lineup that was going to get us some runs,” head coach Steve Piercefield said. “I had a little bit of help from a special little guy who helped put that together tonight. I have to thank him for helping to put that together.”
Each of the top four hitters in the River Rat lineup registered a multiple hit game, highlighted by a Keith Curcio (Florida Southern) home run to score the final three runs for Sanford and put the game, ultimately, out of reach.
“Keith can really hit the ball,” Piercefield said of his hottest hitter. “He has a great approach and finally, the city of Sanford is getting to see his ability come out.”
Finding themselves down 6-0 in the blink of an eye, the Rats went to work with the bats in the bottom of the third. Sam Halpern (Barry) and Drew Weeks (North Florida) got things started with a pair of singles. Alex Mendez (USF) followed with a single of his own one out later to load the bases, which were quickly erased by a pickoff at third.
Tyler Lesch (USC-Upstate) drew a two-out walk to put the sacks full again, before Kevin Wortman (Florida Tech) and Curcio each drew free passes to bring home two runs. Daniel Seeba (USC-Upstate) followed with a ground ball that should have ended the inning, however a throwing error found the ball in the Freedom dugout and brought home a pair of runs. Nico Delerme (East Stroudsburg) completed the comeback with a single to score two more runs and tie the game at six.
Not content with a tie game, the Rats put five more on the board in the fourth. Tommy Williams (UCF) began the rally with a single, which was followed by a Mendez walk. Lesch brought home one run with a single in which an error allowed Williams to score. Wortman plated one run with a single of his own to set the stage for the Curcio home run. The three-run shot landed on top of the right field wall and skipped out of the park.
“The credit goes all to our guys,” Piercefield said. “They’ve been putting in a ton of work.”
John Sever (Daytona State) provided an outstanding appearance on the mound in relief. The lefty pitched five innings, not allowing a hit while striking out seven. He picked up his first victory of the season.
“John was able to come in and really give our guys a chance,” Piercefield said.
Jordan Strittmatter (USF) recorded a two-out save in the ninth to escape a potentially damaging inning after the Freedom had brought the contest within two.
RIVER RATS 14, FREEDOM 5
Friday, July 13
Daniel Seeba scored three runs and four others scored two runs each as the host Sanford River Rats rolled over the Orlando Freedom, 14-5, at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium Friday night.
Sanford starter Nick Gonzalez allowed two runs on three hits with a walk and eight strike outs over five innings, and that was more than good enough considering his offense was building a 10-0 lead.
The River Rats too control immediately, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning and then putting the game out of reach with a five-run fourth.
Ryan Woodrey was a perfect 4-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI, while Alex Mendez was 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI and Jordan Strittmatter was 3-for-6 with an RBI.
Other River Rats contributors were Seeba (2-for-4, double, three runs scored, RBI), Andrew Brodbeck (2-for-5, double, two runs scored), Keith Curcio (2-for-5, two runs scored), Kevin Wortman (1-for-6, home run, run scored, two RBI), Lee Howard (1-for3, run scored, two RBI) and Sam Halpern (1-for-4, two runs scored).
DIAMOND DAWGS 13, RIVER RATS 6
Saturday, July 14
The Winter Park Diamond Dawgs (17-11) ended their three game skid with a victory over the Sanford River Rats (11-17) on Saturday, 13-6, at Alfond Stadium at Harper-Shepherd Field.
The game was never in doubt as the Dawgs got on the board early and often and led the whole way through.
Edwin Medina (Des Moines Area CC) got things started as he led the game off with a single. After stealing second base, Sean Trent (State College of Florida) drove him in with an RBI double. Trent later came around to score on a bases loaded single by Michael Basil (Indiana).
The Dawgs then extended the lead to 8-0 with their six run second inning. The first six batters all reached and ended up scoring in the inning. Michael Danner (Tampa) drove in the first two with his double with the bases loaded. Trent followed, recording his second hit of the night, with a single bringing in another Dawg. Tyler Rocklein (Florida Atlantic) then brought in Danner and Trent with a double of his own. Zach Persky (Rollins) topped of the six run inning with his seventh RBI on the season.
The Rats inched a little closer with one in the fourth and two in the fifth (on a two-run home run from Jordan Strittmatter) but the deficit was just too big to overcome. The Dawgs really put the game away with a four-run seventh.
Tanner Blackman (Lake Brantley, Stetson) who came into the game in the fourth to pinch run for Trent, who went 3-for-3 on the day, drove in two runs with a bases loaded single. After a wild pitch that drove in another Dawgs run, Rocklein singled to top off the Dawgs scoring on the night.
Stephen Holden (Lake Sumter CC) started the game for the Dawgs. In his four innings of work Holden allowed four hits, one run, four walks and one strikeout. Brett Nizamoff (Florida Atlantic) relieved Holden and, ultimately, got the win.
Head coach Kevin Davidson gave his bullpen a lot of work tonight.
After Nizamoff’s one inning of work Davidson brought Anthony Seblano for an inning and Kevin Gude (Bethune-Cookman) for an inning and two-thirds. After what was an apparent arm injury to Gude, Davidson decided to bring in a position player to close out the blowout. Evan Rivera (State College of Florida), who is usually a catcher, came in and recorded the last four outs. Rivera was somewhat effective as well; he only gave up two hits, one run and a walk. The run came on a home run by Daniel Seeba (3-for-5, run, three RBI), his first of the season.
LIGHTNING 9, RIVER RATS 3
Sunday, July 15
The Sanford River Rats fell to the Leesburg Lightning for just the second time this season, dropping a 9-3 decision to the first-place Lightning Sunday at Pat Thomas Stadium in Leesburg.
The Sanford offense was kept off balance by Leesburg starter Josh Ganus (North Carolina A&T), who made his FCSL debut and had a terrific outing.
He pitched five innings, giving up no runs and just two hits, to Jordan Strittmatter (USF) and Andrew Brodbeck (Flagler), while striking out 10 batters and issuing no walks. Meanwhile, his offensive mates were building a 6-0 lead, led by a two-run home run by Michael Miller (Dallas Baptist).
Strittmatter would finish the game as the sole River Rat to record multiple hits.
The River Rats were able to mount some offense against the Leesburg bullpen.
Sanford’s first two runs came across in the sixth inning, after a single by Tommy Williams (UCF) and walks by Alex Mendez (USF) and Kevin Wortman (Florida Tech) loaded the bases. Keith Curcio (Florida Southern) drew a walk to plate Williams, and Sam Halpern (Barry) brought in the second run on a hit by pitch.
The final River Rat run was scored in the eighth inning. Williams belted a sacrifice fly into center field, which brought Ryan Woodrey (Nova Southeastern), who had led the inning off with a double, home.
Sanford reliever John Sever (Daytona State College) continued his stellar week, allowing no runs and no hits in relief of starter Eric Bauer (College of Central Florida).