For the second consecutive season the River Rats find themselves in the Play-In Game with hopes of making it into the Best-of-3 Series to determine the two teams that will meet in the Championship Game Thursday in St. Petersburg.
In 2011 Sanford was the No. 4 seed and pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of winning the playoff game and playoff series with top-seeded to reach the Championship Game and then defeated the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs, 7-5, in the finale to win its second FCSL title.
The River Rats will have even a tougher time this season if they hope to repeat.
Since going on a six-game winning streak to climb into the No. 4 spot in the standings and getting to host the Play-In Game again, Sanford (17-23) has lost five in a row and now must travel to Orlando’s Tinker Field to take on the Monarchs (19-21), who have lost three in a row, tonight at 7 p.m.
The winner of that game will travel to Leesburg tomorrow (Sunday) to take on the top-seeded Lightning at 7 p.m. in the first game of the Best-of-3 Series on Buddy Lowe Field at Pat Thomas Stadium.
Game two would be Monday at either Tinker Field or Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium and the third game, if necessary, would be Tuesday back in Leesburg. Those games would also have a 7 p.m. first pitch.
The Lightning (26-15) won its final three regular season games to hold off the Diamond Dawgs (25-15) for the No. 1 seed by a ½-game. Winter Park closed the season winning seven of its last 10 games and four in a row overall to put the pressure on Leesburg.
Because of the unavailability of Alfond Stadium, the Diamond Dawgs will use Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium as its home field during the playoffs and will host the DeLand Suns (23-17) in the other Best-of-3 Series.
The first game is Sunday in Sanford at 7 p.m. with Game 2 set for Melching Field at Conrad Park in DeLand on Monday at 7 p.m. The ‘if necessary’ game, if both teams have a win, would be back in Sanford on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The two wining teams from the Best-of-3 Series’ will meet in the winner-take-all 2012 Florida Collegiate Summer League Championship Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The game will be on Thursday, August 9, following the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays game which is set for a 1:10 p.m. first pitch.
Here is the playoff schedule:
SATURDAY, AUGUST 4
7 p.m. _ Sanford River Rats vs. Orlando Monarchs at Tinker Field, Orlando.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 5
7 p.m. _ DeLand Suns vs. Winter Park Diamond Dawgs at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium.
7 p.m. _ River Rats/Monarchs winner vs. Leesburg Lightning at Pat Thomas Stadium, Leesburg.
MONDAY, AUGUST 6
7 p.m. _ Winter Park Diamond Dawgs vs. DeLand Suns at Conrad Park, DeLand.
7 p.m. _ Leesburg Lightning vs. River Rats/Monarchs winner at TBA.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 7
7 p.m. (if necessary) _ DeLand Suns vs. Winter Park Diamond Dawgs at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium.
7 p.m. (if necessary) _ River Rats/Monarchs winner vs. Leesburg Lightning at Pat Thomas Stadium, Leesburg.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 9
5 p.m. (tentative) _ Teams TBA at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg.