The Winter Park Diamond Dawgs are in a tie for the league lead after leaping two spots on the ladder thanks to a seven-game winning streak.
And some of those wins have been nail-biters, with the Dawgs just squeaking by on a run or two lead. But in all of those games, the Dawgs have found something they’ve struggled with throughout the season — consistent run production.
The Dawgs have averaged nearly nine runs per game over the course of their season-saving streak, which has put them in a tie with the Leesburg Lightning at the top of the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
That streak included two wins over the longtime league leaders; an 8-6 nail-biter on July 2 and their most recent win, a 15-11 slugfest July 8. That game seemed to be over by the end of the second inning, with the Dawgs enjoying an 8-1 lead thanks to a pair of triples in the first and a wild string of singles and errors in the second.
Dawgs batting leader Michael Danner did a lot of damage in those first two rallies, falling just a double short of hitting for the cycle in the game.
But after a six-run fifth inning by the Lightning, the game was no longer a certain win for the Dawgs, who watched the listless Lightning tie up the game at 10 runs each. The game’s only scoreless inning would follow before the Lightning took the lead temporarily with a dramatic two-out triple by Jake Hanson that scored Kyle Teaf from first.
That all changed quickly when Danner sent a two-run shot into the night in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead back, and the Dawgs piled on another two runs to extend their lead again. It would be the last time the Lightning would come close to reclaiming the game. Nearly three hours after it started, the game ended 15-11.
In that game, and in many during the Dawgs’ continuing streak, the team learned how to put runs together beyond just the top of the batting order, dramatically cutting down on runners left on base in the process.
The irony of the Dawgs finally getting their groove back is Danner somewhat losing his own, falling below .400 for the first time this season. But his .398 batting average still leads the league by a wide margin, and his third long ball of the season puts him in a tie for fifth for going yard.
Meanwhile the Dawgs’ top starter, Anthony Figliolia, finally had his ludicrous 0.00 ERA end, but after giving up his first run of the season after 22 innings pitched, he remains the league’s best at 0.41.
The Dawgs played two during press time Tuesday and Wednesday, and hit the road for DeLand at 7 p.m. Thursday and Orlando at 7 p.m. Friday, but they’ll return home against Sanford at 7 p.m. Saturday to play the struggling River Rats.