A mysterious case of the slumps has hit the top three teams in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, but the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs (21-15) have crept to within a game of the league lead heading into the final week of regular season play.
That comes thanks to the hammering duo of Michael Danner and Tyler Rocklein, who combined for more than a dozen RBI in less than a handful of games.
After losing to Sanford (17-20) for the first time this season on July 21 by a 12-7 score, the Dawgs did it again on July 25, this time by 8-5. Like most of their upset losses, the Dawgs let their opponent come from behind to win.
Unlike most of those games, the Dawgs mounted a comeback of their own to try to regain the lead. But a two-run rally in the ninth fell short, and so did the Dawgs.
Winter Park took advantage of a faltering Monarchs team to drop them 4-2 on July 26 in a dramatic 10th inning nail-biter. After forcing a tie in the ninth inning, the Dawgs put two on the base paths before a balk sent them into scoring position. That’s when Rocklein capitalized with a single to left that he stretched into a double as Sean Trent and Ted Blackman circled the bases to go up 4-2. Zach Haile closed things out for the save.
On July 27 the hit parade kept coming as the Dawgs traveled to Leesburg and upset the hosts in a 12-6 slugfest blowout.
Danner and Rocklein teed off on Leesburg July 27, launching a homerun apiece and combining for six RBI in the Dawgs’ wild game of batting practice. Blackman would score three runs in the game for the Dawgs.
Despite the big game at the plate, Winter Park’s pitching struggled after a quality start from Michael Sylvestri left the Lightning with only two runs in the first six innings. The Dawgs’ bullpen would give up another four runs in three innings to give the team a scare, but the game was never in reach for the Lightning.
July 28 was an unlucky day for Evan Incinelli. The former Winter Park Wildcat gave up just one earned run to the DeLand Suns while striking out four in five innings, but got the 5-1 loss anyway thanks to five errors, three of them by shortstop Michael Basil.
Basil did his best to make up for those errors, contributing the only RBI in the game for the Dawgs on a fifth inning single, but the damage was done. A trio of Suns pitchers allowed only four hits in the game.
Incinelli still holds the best ERA in the league with 1.54 and 29 strikeouts in just 21 innings. The Dawgs’ Cary Baxter’s 49 strikeouts in 37 innings leads the league.
Danner and Rocklein remain the league’s sluggers, with Danner holding the homerun lead with eight and the batting crown with .361. Rocklein’s 37 RBI leads the next best in the league by three.
After playing Sanford on Tuesday at press time, the Dawgs faced the Monarchs three times to start the playoffs. They played a doubleheader at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Tinker Field on Wednesday, and finish things with a 7 p.m. showdown Thursday, also at Tinker Field. After that the playoffs continue TBA on Saturday.