Sanford River Rats Win!

Sanford River Rats Win Florida League Championship

Phil Chinnery, posted on August 10, 2015 11:38


Alex House Sends River Rats Home Champions with Complete Game Shutout Over Leesburg

St. Petersburg, Fla. - The 2015 Florida League season came down to one final game on Sunday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The hundreds of fans in attendance were treated to one of the best pitching performances of the season courtesy of Sanford’s Alex House (Florida Atlantic). The sophomore RHP delivered a complete game shutout victory over the Leesburg Lightning to give the River Rats their third Florida League title.

“Pitcher’s duel” doesn’t do justice to the matchup between House and Leesburg’s Darren Kelly (Alabama State). Coming into the game, House had not been defeated all year, posting a 4-0 record during the regular season, and winning game one of the playoffs on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, Kelly was the league leader in innings pitched 51.1, and one of the most consistent arms for head coach Rich Billings all season long. The two starting pitchers absolutely dominated both lineups throughout the game, allowing a combined five hits, one walk and striking out eleven.


Aaron Palmer (New Orleans) would provide all the offense the Rats would need in the bottom of the sixth. The junior outfielder was struck by the first pitch of the inning, putting him on first base. After Kelly forced Santiago Espinal (Seminole State) to flyout, Palmer would steal second base during Kevin Santa’s (Tampa) at bat. Santa would then send a ball to deep right field, but a tremendous play from Tanner Long made it a long flyout. The ball was hit hard enough to put Palmer at third base, however. The next pitch to Chris Bec (Miami Dade) was a breaking ball that hit the dirt and got away from the catcher Baez, allowing Palmer to score from third base on the wild pitch, giving the Rats a 1-0 advantage.


In the ninth after completing a double play to end the ball game the Rats bench cleared quickly, dogpiling on their starting pitcher. It was the second complete game shutout of the year for House, brining his season record to 6-0 and season ERA to 1.23. His final line for the game read nine innings pitched, four hits, no runs, no walks and six strikeouts. With his efforts, House was an easy choice for Championship Game MVP. In his ten starts this year for the River Rats, including playoffs, the Rats did not lose a game, going 9-0-1.


Darren Kelly took the loss for Lightning despite an impressive performance: seven innings, one hit, one run, one walk and five strikeouts.


The win served as a bit of redemption for Coach Ken Kelly and the River Rats, who fell in the championship against the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs in 2014. They had one goal in mind this season, and achieved it as they earned the #1 seed in the playoffs with the best record in the league (26-13-1). It is the third championship in team history (2004, 2011), the second most in league history.


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