O’FALLON, Mo– Needing to sweep the day to grab their seventh series victory of the season, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, did just that, taking both ends of a doubleheader with the River City Rascals, 5-2, at CarShield Field on Thursday night. The two wins will keep the Freedom in first place in the West Division when they take the field next on Friday at UC Health Stadium.
Florence (22-12) took the first lead of game one in the top of the second inning, getting a single from Ricky Ramirez Jr. to lead-off the frame. The one-bagger extended Ramirez’ hitting streak to nine games, and was his first of four base knocks in the pair of games against River City (18-17). After a pair of walks to Mike Gulino and Jackson Pritchard loaded the bases, RBI-leader Connor Crane put the visitors in front, roping a run-scoring single that made the score, 1-0. Freedom manager, Dennis Pelfrey, was ejected for the first time in 2019 in the inning, having words with home-plate umpire, Mike Fichter after the umpire yelled into the Florence dug-out following a high-strike call.
The Rascals would answer in the third, using a solo-shot from Zach Lavy to even the score at 1. The homer was the first hit Florence starter, Daniel Williams allowed on his way to the no-decision. Taking their first lead in the bottom of the sixth, Artemis Kadkhodian followed a ground-rule double from James Morisano with an RBI-single. Cody Livesay scored the run, pinch-running for Morisano ahead of the base-hit. Williams would not come back out for the seventh, finishing his second start after six quality innings, allowing two earned runs on just three hits with no walks and two strikeouts. The right-hander has now registered back-to-back quality starts to begin his Freedom career.
The game turned towards the Freedom in a thrilling seventh frame, Austin Wobrock stalemating the affair at 2 with a clutch two-out RBI-single that scored Ramirez and brought extra innings on the horizon. Before free baseball arrived in O’Fallon, Florence southpaw, Karl Craigie (3-1) had to find three outs in the bottom of the seventh. Despite seeing the bases get loaded with nobody out, Craigie managed to strikeout the side, giving the visitors all momentum moving into the eighth. The Freedom would not waste any time seizing the game, scoring three runs on four hits to take a, 5-2, lead. Tyler Reichenborn led-off with a single before Luis Pintor made it first and second with an infield single of his own. Two batters later, Andre Mercurio put the Freedom ahead by one, roping a single to center that scored Reichenborn. The very next batter, Ramirez, cleared the bases with a two-run double that stretched the Freedom lead to three. The two-bagger was the third hit of the game for Ramirez, and offered more than enough insurance for closer, Johnathon Tripp in the bottom of the eighth. Tripp would face the minimum, securing his sixth save and the, 5-2, victory. Craigie took the win in relief, the loss going to Anthony Herrera (0-1) after allowing two of the three runs in the top of the eighth. Florence is now, 5-0, in extra inning games in 2019.
Again jumping in front to take the first lead of the game, Florence enjoyed a, 2-0, edge after the top of the second. Brandon Pugh delivered the first RBI, maximizing a Ryan Rinksy walk with a triple off the wall in left-center. Crane again plated a run next, pulling a single to left that scored Pugh and made it a two-run game. Crane now has 25 runs batted in on the season, tying him for third most in all of the Frontier League.
River City would tie the game at two in the bottom of the fifth, getting a pair of hits to start the frame, spelling the end for Freedom starter, Zak Spivy. With one out in the inning, Ryan Mordecai (3-1) emerged from the bullpen to find the final two outs with runners at first and second. Tanner Murphy and Trevor Achenbach would both tally run-scoring singles, the runs charged to Spivy as the score stalemated again. Spivy spanned 4.1 innings allowing two earned runs on three hits with two walks and two whiffs in his debut start on the bump. The right-hander would go on to take the no-decision.
Answering the bell in their very next at-bat, the Freedom plated three runs off Andrew Vernon (0-1) to again seize control of the game moving into the final frame. Reichenborn started the rally, tripling off the monstrous wall in right field to put the go-ahead run at third base. A wild pitch would allow Reichenborn to score, giving Florence a, 3-2, advantage. After a walk to Lopes and a Mercurio base-knock put runners at first and second, Pintor laid down a sacrifice bunt to push both runners in scoring position. With two outs, Pelfrey called on Ramirez to pinch-hit for Rinsky, his nine-game hitting-streak hanging in the balance. Ramirez would come through, splitting the gap in right-center with a double off Ryan Orr as the score became, 5-2. Ramirez finished the double-dip 4-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles and 4 RBI. The right-fielder finished the series going 6-9 at the dish offensively. Brian McKenna would make quick work of the Rascals in his two innings of work, displaying electric stuff on his way to four strikeouts and his third save. The power-righty fanned the side to slam the door in the bottom of the seventh, Florence again prevailing, 5-2, over the Rascals.
Florence will travel through the night before getting back on the field at home on Friday at 7:05 p.m.. The Freedom will welcome the Gateway Grizzlies to UC Heatlh Stadium, where their first four-game series of the season will be played.
The Florence Freedom are members of the Independent Frontier League and play all home games at UC Health Stadium located at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence, KY. The Freedom can be found online at florencefreedom.com, or by phone at (859) 594-4487