CRESTWOOD, IL – Chris Washington tossed his first career shutout and got all the support he needed from Taisei Fukuhara, who homered in the second inning to give the ThunderBolts a 1-0 win over the Florence Freedom at Ozinga Field Tuesday afternoon.
Washington retired the first two batters that he faced before Caleb Lopes hit a double in the first inning. Andre Mercurio followed with a flyout and the Freedom (38-24) did not put another runner in scoring position the rest of the game.
Fukuhara put the ThunderBolts (27-33) on the board in the bottom of the second inning when he took a Hayden Wheeler pitch over the rightfield wall. It was Fukuhara’s first professional home run and it gave the Bolts a 1-0 lead.
Lopes singled for Florence in the fourth inning, his second hit of the game, but was caught stealing second. Washington went on to retire the next 14 batters.
Despite at least one base runner in seven of eight innings, the ThunderBolts could not add to their lead. Brynn Martinez went 3-for-4 with a triple and extended his hitting streak to 19 games, but he was stranded on base three times as the Bolts went 0-for-10 with runners on base.
Washington ended up not needing the extra help. He allowed his third hit of the game, a Brandon Pugh single, with one out in the ninth but bounced back to retire the final two hitters. It was the first complete game of the year for a ThunderBolt pitcher and the second of Washington’s career.
He improved to 2-6 with the win while Wheeler fell to 1-1 with the loss.
Wednesday sees the ThunderBolts and Freedom play their second of three straight Splash Day games. Sean LeLand (0-1, 5.52) makes the start for Windy City against Florence’s Daniel Williams (3-2, 5.05). First pitch from Ozinga Field is scheduled for 10:35 and fans not at the ballpark can hear the broadcast at WXAV, 88.3 FM and wxav.com.