Offense ropes 15 more hits, Gibson hurls quality start in win

JOLIET, Ill– Looking for their ninth series victory in the finale of a mid-week set, the top club in the Frontier League, Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, bludgeoned the Joliet Slammers, 11-3, to take the series at DuPage Medical Group Field on Thursday night. 

Scoring in their first five at-bats, the Freedom (28-13) buried the Slammers (14-28), 11-0, after 4.5 innings in the rubber-match. Making a spot start, right-hander, Cody Clark (2-2) saw Florence jump in front after just one pitch, Tyler Reichenborn unloading on a lead-off homer to dead center for his first round-tripper of the year. Back-to-back singles later in the frame by Caleb Lopes and Andre Mercurio put runners on the corners for Ricky Ramirez Jr., who proceeded to reach on the first of six Joliet errors as the score moved to, 2-0, visitors. Luis Pintor then promptly made it a three-run game, roping a single up the middle that scored Mercurio as the Freedom were off and running, 3-0. RBI-leader, Connor Crane added one more to the tally a few batters later, lacing a run-scoring single to left as Pintor was gunned at the plate to end the inning with the score, 4-0, Florence.

Freedom ace, Tyler Gibson (5-1) pitched comfortably with a lead, retiring the side in order in the bottom of the first, before a 10 minute rain delay took effect at DuPage Medical Group Field.

Right back to work after the delay, Florence made it a, 5-0, game thanks in part to a two-out single from Lopes that would see him take second on an error in right by Ridge HoopiHaslamMercurio made the miscue hurt, pulling a beebe to right that scored the runner from second to increase the Freedom advantage one batter later. Two more runs would cross in the top of the third, when Taylor Bryant followed a second single from Pintor with a line-drive homer to right-center. The big-fly was the second of the season for Bryant and made it a seven-run affair at, 7-0. Clark would not come back out for the fourth, spanning just three innings and surrendering nine hits that led to seven Freedom runs, five earned, with one walk and four whiffs on the way to the loss.

Drew Peden would toe the rubber for Joliet in the fourth, where Florence continued the onslaught with two more runs off the submarine reliever. Austin Wobrock started the frame with a double before Lopes worked a walk to put runners at first and second. Mercurio, who would finish his night, 4-5  with two runs batted in at the plate, pushed the Freedom ahead, 8-0, with another RBI-single that scored Wobrock as the rout was on. With the bases loaded in the inning, Jackson Pritchard tallied an RBI with a hit by pitch as the lead swelled to nine. Peden still on the bump in the fifth, saw the visitors make it three-straight innings of two-runs scored, and five consecutive innings of at-least one run crossing the plate. Lopes counted the first run in the frame on his second of three singles for the game, plating Crane who reached on another Slammers error as the score moved to, 10-0. Three straight singles from Wobrock, Lopes and Mercurio loaded the bases again in the fifth, as Ramirez Jr. delivered a sacrifice-fly to left to extend the Freedom lead to 11.

Joliet would break through in the bottom of the sixth, plating an unearned run off Gibson after an error by Wobrock put runners on the corners. Chaz Meadows would plate the first Slammers run via a sacrifice-fly, as it became a ten-run affair at, 11-1. Adding two more runs in the seventh, Harrison Bragg and Peyton Isaacson both knocked solo homers off Gibson to pull within eight, 11-3.

Gibson would hand the ball to lefty Karl Craigie in the eighth, finishing his night spanning seven frames and allowing three runs, two earned on three hits with one walk and two strikeouts. The quality start was the sixth of the season for the Freedom ace, who took his fifth win with the performance. Craigie would fan one in a quick bottom of the eighth, before Johnathon Tripp made quick work of Joliet in the ninth to seal the, 11-3, victory.

Florence will get back on the diamond on Friday in Schaumburg when they square off with the Boomers at Boomers Stadium. It will be a lefty showcase in the opener, as the Freedom trot-out Scott Sebald (1-0, 3.95) opposite southpaw Aaron Rozek (2-2, 3.42) of Schaumburg with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. CST. Florence swept the Boomers in a three-game series at UC Health Stadium the first time the two teams met in Florence, and will enter the series winners of 15 of their last 18.

The Florence Freedom are members of the Independent Frontier League and play all homegames at UC Health Stadium located at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence, KY.  The Freedom can be found online at, or by phone at (859) 594-4487.


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