SAUGET, Ill– Fresh and rested on the heels of the All-Star Break, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, picked up where they left off in the first half of the season, taking a, 5-2, victory from the Gateway Grizzlies on Friday night at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
It was the Grizzlies (21-31) who jumped on the scoreboard first, taking a, 1-0, advantage when Brent Sakurai laced his fourth home run of the season to left-center, a solo-shot off Daniel Williams in the bottom of the first inning.
Florence (36-17) scored the next four runs unanswered however, breaking through with their first base-hit off Reign Letkeman (1-2) in the top of the fourth, courtesy a single from Andre Mercurio. The very next batter, Ricky Ramirez Jr. lined a two-run laser over the wall in right-center, as the visitors jumped in front, 2-1. After Taylor Bryant walked and Isaac Benard doubled to put runners at second and third in the top of the fifth, Tyler Reichenborn shot a single to center, scoring both runners as the Freedom edge grew to, 4-1.
Williams would record the first two outs in the home half of the fifth, but allowed an RBI-single to Zak Taylor before getting replaced by lefty, Hayden Wheeler (2-0) with the score at, 4-2. The southpaw would retire the first man he faced to protect the starter’s line and position himself for the win. Williams finished having logged 4.2 innings of work, scattering six hits that led to two earned runs with two walks and four whiffs. The right-hander would take the no-decision. Wheeler spanned 1.2 shut-out innings of relief on the way to his second win of the season.
Already in front by a pair, Florence added one more run to the ledger off Lucas Lanphere in the top of the eighth. Luis Pintor got the knock, plating Mercurio from second on a bullet up the middle before swiping second on the throw to the plate. Pintor, the club leader in stolen bases, would steal two bags in the game to up his total to 19 on the year.
Ahead, 5-2, in the bottom of the ninth, closer, Johnathon Tripp toed the slab in search of his league-leading twelfth save. The right-hander would find it, facing one over the minimum and fanning one as the Freedom emerged victorious in the three-run affair. With the win, the Freedom improved to 8-0 versus the Grizzlies in 2019.
These two West Division rivals will get back on the diamond on Saturday in the middle-game of this weekend series. Florence will trot-out lefty, Scott Sebald (2-1, 4.06) opposite Dominic Tapoozian (4-3, 2.97) of Gateway with first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. CST in Sauget, Ill. The Freedom will be looking to take the series in the middle-game, while the Grizzlies hope to set-up a rubber-match in the Sunday finale. Gateway has not beaten Florence in a series since July of 2016.
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.