posted on June 03, 2011 22:33
LEESBURG, Fla. (June 3, 2011) - The Leesburg Lightning kicked off the 2011 season with a big win Friday night in front of a packed house at Pat Thomas Stadium Buddy Lowe Field. The nearly 2,000 in attendance saw the 2011 season start with a bang as Leesburg trumped DeLand 15-3 in seven innings.
The game started with some hard luck for starting pitcher Nic Kovacs who was left with runners on the corners and no outs after two quick come backers to the mound that caught everyone off guard. Kovacs, who pitched for Leesburg last season, quickly regrouped and struck out the next two hitters after catcher Nick Octavi threw out a would be base stealer to end the threat.
Troy Drummond scored the first run of the new season off a Hunter Mayfield single in the first inning and it was all Leesburg after that.
Scoring four in the second inning, seven in the third and three in the fourth, the Lightning jumped out to a 12-0 lead before DeLand had a chance to respond.
“Absolutely not what I expected at all,” said Head Coach David Therneau who was completely blown away by his teams powerful performance. “I think it’s much tougher as an offense to adapt to wood bats and that if anything pitchers are at an advantage, so to score 15 runs on 14 hits is very impressive.”
Starter Nic Kovacs was pulled after three innings in an effort to save his arm for the long season according to Coach Therneau. In his three innings of work, Kovacs didn’t let a ball out of the infield and with the exception of three infield singles, didn’t allow another base runner.
Kovacs got the starting nod at practice on Thursday and said it was his first time getting the start at this level and his confidence was evident in his pitching Friday night. “It definitely helps being here last year,” he said. “You get a feel for the league and the field and how the wood bats respond.”
Despite the great performance by Kovacs (ND), the win went to Michigan native Mike Clutterbuck who was fortunate enough to be pitching in front of his family. Clutterbuck and Ethan Bader closed out the game for the Lightning and saw the final six retired batters go down on strikes courtesy of Bader.
Hunter Mayfield and Nick Octavi led the way combining for seven hits and six RBIs. Mayfield finished the night 3-for-5, while Octavi was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate and handled the pitching staff incredibly.
“It felt really good out there,” said Mayfield who’s four RBIs led the team. “I didn’t try to do too much at the plate and we all stayed loose and relaxed throughout the entire game.”
You could not have asked for a better night in what General Manager Bruce Ericson called the biggest opening night the Lightning has ever had. All of the players and especially the new head coach were amazed by the fans who poured their support into the new look Lightning during the Opening Night victory.
Leesburg will now take to the road as they face DeLand on their home field on Saturday, June 4 at 7 p.m.
Nick Beardi (Medaille College)