FREEDOM UNLOAD ON SLAMMERS IN OPENER

Offense totals twelve runs on sixteen hits in victory

JOLIET, Ill- One victory away from a new winning-streak milestone, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, hit all night on the way to a, 12-7, win over the Joliet Slammers in the opener of a mid-week set at DuPage Medical Group Field on Tuesday night.

The relentless offensive onslaught first yielded results in the top of the second, when the Freedom (27-15) scratched two runs across off Slammers (13-27) starter, Tyler Jones (0-1), who was making his debut start for Joliet. Back-to-back singles from Ricky Ramirez Jr. and Luis Pintor started the inning, with Jackson Pritchard plating the first run of the game on a 6-3 double play. Brandon Pugh doubled the Florence lead next, slapping an RBI-double that split the gap in left-center as the score became, 2-0. The Freedom, who would go on to score in six of nine at-bats on the night, doubled their lead in the third. After singling to start the frame, Caleb Lopes came around to score when L.J. Kalawaia made an error in left field on the heels of an Andre Mercurio one-baggerMercurio would take second on the boot, and third on the ensuing throw to the plate as the Slammers failed to gun Lopes at the dish. Two batters later, Pintor roped his second of three hits for the game, counting Mercurio with a run-scoring single as the score moved to, 4-0, visitors.

One big Chaz Meadows swing of the bat would pull Joliet within one in the bottom of the third, Meadows connecting on his third home run of the year, a three-run shot after a pair of two-out singles. Freedom hurler, Daniel Williams (2-0) would surrender a double to Dash Winningham next, but buckled down from there, Joliet not getting another hit until Meadows singled in the eighth to make it a multi-hit night.

Answering the opposition after a big inning has become a calling card for Florence, who would scratch across one more run in the top of the fourth. Taylor Bryant wore a pitch to start the frame, and soon found himself standing at third following an Isaac Benard single. Austin Wobrock would tally the RBI, executing a safety squeeze to push the Freedom in front, 5-3.

Jones would not come back out for the fifth, ending his debut start having gone 4 complete frames while allowing five runs, four earned on nine hits with no walks and three strikeouts on his way to the loss.

With Wes Albert on the bump in the top of the seventh, Lopes circled the bags after tattooing his second homer in three games, a solo-shot for his third dinger of the season. Ramirez Jr. notched his second single of the night two batters later, and Pintor made it count when he split the gap in right-center for a double the very next at-bat, moving the score to, 7-3, Florence. Not done scoring in the inning, Pugh proceeded to rope his second knock of the night to put runners on the corners. Pritchard who waked in the inning, then scored from third on a Mitch McIntyre wild pitch as it became a five-run game. Adding to their advantage in the eighth, a two-out walk to Mercurio brought Ramirez Jr. back to the plate with a runner at first. Ramirez would blister a line-drive two-run homer to right, his third round-tripper of the campaign making it a, 10-3, affair.

The Slammers would earn some momentum in a four-run bottom of the eighth, Williams getting pulled in favor of right-handed reliever, Sean Watkins after surrendering a walk and a Meadows single with one dead. Watkins would strike out the first man he faced, before allowing a Brian Parreira RBI-single. Harrison Bragg then drove a home run to right, a second Slammers three-run shot brought the home team within three at, 10-7. Two of the four runs that scored in the inning were charged to the starter, Williams, who finished his night having spanned 7.1 innings while allowing five earned runs on six scattered hits with two walks and five whiffs. Williams would go on to earn the win, his second in 2019.

Continuing to impose their will offensively, the Freedom plated two more runs in the ninth as the score became, 12-7, the eventual final. Pritchard dropped a double to right to lead-off the inning, before moving to third on a Pugh ground-out to first. Taylor Bryant would work a walk next, later stealing second base to eliminate the conventional double-play as runners stood at second and third for Benard. Both runners proceeded to score as Benard torched a double to the power-alley in left-center, giving Florence the five-run advantage. 5 Freedom hitters would tally a multi-hit night, Pintor and Ramirez the only two to go for three knocks in the opening game win.

Florence has now won seven games in a row, and 14 of their last 16 as they look for a ninth series victory in the middle-game with Joliet on Wednesday morning. Lefty, Mike Castellani (4-1, 2.25 ERA) will toe the slab for the Freedom opposite a TBD starter for the Slammers with first pitch slated for 10:05 a.m. CST.

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 florencefreedom.com, or by phone at (859) 594-4487.

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