Caleb Lopes hit go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth inning
FLORENCE, Ky. – With more late heroics at the plate, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, pushed the Gateway Grizzlies to the brink of a four-game sweep with a, 5-3, comeback victory on Sunday night at UC Health Stadium.
Stalemated at, 3-3, in the bottom of the eighth, Caleb Lopes strolled to the plate to face Gateway (15-22) closer, Grant Black (0-4), with Ricky Ramirez Jr. standing at first after a single. Lopes proceeded to turn on an inside-fastball, lacing a go-ahead two-run shot that pushed Florence (25-12) ahead of the Grizzles, by the eventual final, 5-3.
Johnathon Tripp worked quickly in the ninth, collecting his eighth save while facing the minimum to preserve the two-run Freedom victory.
The Freedom started the scoring in the bottom of the first, as Ricky Ramirez Jr. reached base following a Gunnar Buhner error at second. Ramirez Jr. proceeded to steal second base, paving the way to an Andre Mercurio RBI-single that gave Florence their first lead at, 1-0.
Gateway would jump ahead in the sixth, using a Tyler Plantier three-run shot, his first of the season, to take a, 3-1, advantage.
The Freedom would rally to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, getting a Ramirez Jr. double and a Mercurio single to put runners on the corners for Lopes. The home team would make it a one-run affair, when Lopes grounded-out to short to score Ramirez Jr. making the score, 3-2. Taylor Bryant would plate the tying run with the bases loaded and two outs, as Black entered the game for the Grizzlies. The second Gateway error of the night was to blame, as Christian Funk booted a chopper to third that allowed Mercurio to score as the game drew even at three apiece.
The last game of the wrap-around series against the Grizzlies will feature Freedom righty, Frank Valentino (3-3), who currently sits second in the Frontier League with a 1.80 ERA. Gateway will make a game-time decision on their starting pitcher for the finale on Monday morning at 10:35 a.m. at UC Health Stadium.
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 canbe found online at florencefreedom.com, or by phone at (859) 594-4487.