The Winter Park team lost 12-1 in the final game of the Florida Collegiate Summer League championship against the DeLand Suns.
Baseball is a grueling sport, and a season can wear down the best of players and teams.
Unfortunately for the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs, the steam to power forward let out at an unfortunate time as the Dawgs fell 12-1 in the final game of the Florida Collegiate Summer League championship against the DeLand Suns Monday, Aug. 6.
Leading up to Monday’s finale, the Dawgs were blanked 4-0 in game one before turning it around in Sunday’s game two in a clutch 7-5 win to force the series to a winner-take-all game three.
But despite the disappointing loss to end the summer season, Dawgs’ second-year head coach Chuck Schall said there was plenty to be proud of with this group of collegiate players.
“We had a lot of kids who got a lot out of this summer, (who) needed reps and got good reps,” he said. “That’s what the league is about anyway — getting them competitive reps. But all-in-all, they made a lot of good friendships and a lot of memories, (and) we had some really cool games there in the end.”
It was toward the end of the season when the Dawgs — who finished 18-20 on the year and eight-and-a-half games behind the Leesburg Lightning — really hit their stride as they went 6-4 in the last 10 games.
The postseason push began with an absolute fireworks show on offense as the Dawgs outlasted the Seminole County Scorpions in a wild 20-17 win at home. That was followed by a back-and-forth three-game series with the top-seeded Lightning.
After falling 1-0 in game one, the Dawgs rallied — just as they did against the Suns — to take game two in a close 3-2 win, before pulling off their first comeback win of the season in an 11-inning, 7-6 slugfest to send them to the championship series.
The series win over the Lightning was a real highlight for Schall, who admired his team’s effort to overcome adversity to move through the postseason.
“Leesburg still had a very solid team,” he said. “They had a lot of pitching, and they were the No. 1 seed. We had to go in there and beat them. We were basically going in there with nine position players and a handful of pitchers, (and we) just competed and came out on top.”
Just being able to make it into the playoffs was quite an accomplishment for this year’s team; the Dawgs faced numerous obstacles throughout the season.
A rain-soaked summer — which Schall said was the worst he had seen as a coach — resulted in 13 games being either canceled or suspended.
In addition, Schall’s squad saw players leaving the team for a number of reasons — which resulted in lack of depth, especially on the mound.
“We lost like, four pitchers at one time (who) were all bullpen guys, and that really put us in a little bit of a spin there,” Schall said. “Typically (in) these leagues, when your pitching is strong, you usually do pretty well. But when you start losing a lot of pitchers, you’re going to have games where you come out and smash a team one night, and the next night you might get 10-run ruled.”
Despite the losses — which included the hard swinging bat of Jacob Teter — guys such as JP Williams and Trevor Tinder stepped it up on the mound, while others such as catcher Jeff Korte and outfielder Tyler Osik played a pivotal role at the plate and on the field.
But of all the lessons learned throughout the last couple of months of ball, Schall hopes each player can take away something positive that can be used to better their game at the next level.
“I’m hoping the reps that they got with us is going to help them,” Schall said. “You always hope that they’re going to improve and learn and be able to take positives with them back to school.”