A week into the season, the Florida Collegiate Summer League is looking to be hyper-competitive, with all but one team within a game and a half of the league lead. The Winter Park Diamond Dawgs, perennial playoff contenders, are looking to break into a rhythm after losing, then winning, then losing again.
The Dawgs opened their season June 4 with a late-inning heartbreaker, having held close to the Sanford River Rats until the eighth inning, when Oviedo-raised Eliot Shapleigh gave up four runs on three hits as the Rats ran away with it. That wild inning of walks, beanings and throwing errors would be the death blow for the Dawgs, who picked up two runs on a Josh DeBacker single and a wild pitch in the ninth, but never caught up to the Rats. As the next two games would show, as Shapleigh goes, so go the Dawgs.
Winter Park got revenge in the very next game when they posted up a four-run inning of their own against the Rats on June 6. Shapleigh, this time playing in right field, made up for his prior mound meltdown with a pair of singles, an RBI and a run to help propel his team to victory. DeBacker would take the mound for the final two innings for the save, striking out two in the process.
It was a wild extra-innings game Monday night that would deal a double heartbreaker to the Dawgs. Casey Cribb provided the fireworks for the evening when he took a ball from the Altamonte Springs Boom’s Jose Pupo, then sent the next pitch over the wall for the Dawgs’ go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. But then the Dawgs gave up the tying run — and their shot at a win — in the bottom of the ninth, credited to Shapleigh. Two innings later, the Dawgs surrendered the winning run and dropped out of the lead in the league standings.
Meanwhile the River Rats are 3-1 after going streaking in the last two games, posting easy wins over the Deland Suns and Leesburg Lightning.
Andrew Davis came in as a backup catcher and smashed a ball into outer space as he collected three RBI and helped the Rats rally in the eighth inning for that big 8-3 win over Leesburg Tuesday.
That game had already turned into a batting clinic by the time the Rats had things well in hand, with the Rats smashing four doubles, a triple and a dinger in the contest. By the time Sanford was finished lighting up five of Leesburg’s pitchers, they’d collected eight runs on eight hits, with the odd-stat-out being strikeouts as the Rats swung for the fences and came up empty 10 times on the night.
Meanwhile from the mound the Rats’ pitching staff seemed to get more time on the rubber the worse the pitcher was performing. Francisco Lopez went 2.1 innings in relief before being yanked after giving up three of the Rats’ five surrendered hits, three of their five walks and all of their earned runs. Orbiting Lopez’s three runs allowed in the third through fifth innings, Casey Sullivan, Dylan Dillard, Tyler Ratliff and Keisy Portorreal combined to allow only two hits and two walks in 6.2 innings of work. Dillard, who struck out five of six batters he faced, was pulled in the middle of the game and still ended up with the win.
The result kept the Rats all by themselves at the top of the league.
Every team in the league was set for a game at press time Wednesday night, with the Dawgs tendering their rain check against the Boom after being flooded out Tuesday.
The Dawgs will be back home at 7 p.m. Friday to face the Suns, but they’ll be road-tripping until next Wednesday. The Rats host the Boom at 7 p.m. Thursday, then again at 7 p.m. Friday.