Mike Castellani earns team-leading seventh victory in quality-start

MARION, Ill– In the regular-season finale between two West Division rivals, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, combined consistent offense with a quality-start in a skid-snapping, 4-2, victory over the Southern Illinois Miners on Thursday night at Rent One Park.

For the first time in the five-game losing streak, the Freedom (49-34) plated the first run of the game in their side of the first inning. With left-hander, Cole Cook (1-1) on the hill for the Miners (46-35), Isaac Benard drove in his first of two runs on the night, lining a sacrifice-fly to center that allowed Caleb Lopes to cross home-plate and push Florence in front, 1-0.

Cook would come out of the game with two outs in the first, suffering an apparent injury to his throwing arm. The lefty wound up suffering the loss, allowing one earned run on two hits with one walk and no whiffs in two thirds of an inning. Right-hander, Andrew Bernstein took over in emergency relief, spanning 3.2 frames before handing the ball to righty, Heath Renz.

Adding to their advantage in the third, Trevor Craport knocked in Lopes after the latter’s second single, with a one-bagger of his own that made the score, 2-0.

Southpaw, Mike Castellani (7-2) was brilliant in his first win since July 3 at UC Health Stadium, also against the Miners. The pitcher retired the first seven batters he faced, before Joe Duncan laid down a bunt single to give the home team their first base-runner of the contest in the bottom of the third.

Florence doubled their lead in the fifth to move in front, 4-0, Benard and Craport registering the runs batted in with a single and sacrifice-fly, respectively. The two hitters accounted for all four runs the Freedom would score in victory, plating two runs apiece.

Southern Illinois made it a three-run game getting to Castellani for the first time in the bottom of the seventh. Taylor Sparks delivered the knock, sending a double off the wall in left that brought Gianfranco Wawoe around from second as the score became, 4-1.

Castellani would go on to record a pair of outs in the eighth, before Jared Cheek came on in relief following a Yeltsin Gudino double. Cheek retired the first batter he faced, inducing Wawoe into a ground-out to third. Castellani spanned 7.2 one-run innings, scattering seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts en route to the victory. The left-hander rolled three double-plays, minimizing the Miners offense in the hurler’s eighth quality-start.

Karl Craigie took the ball in search of his eighth save in the ninth, and converted after Southern Illinois touched him for one run. Kyle Davis started the abbreviated rally, shooting a single to left before a walk to Sparks. A balk helped both runners move into scoring position, allowing Andy Cosgrove to bring the Miners within two at, 4-2, with a sacrifice-fly to right. Craigie would coax Joe Duncan into a ground-out to short, shutting the door on the Freedom losing streak, and the save in a two-run win.

In victory, Florence finished their road-trip 4-5, and are now 33-9 when they score first in 2019.

The Freedom will get back on the field on Friday, hosting the River City Rascals for a weekend series at UC Health. First pitch on Friday is slated for 7:05 p.m. and will feature a pair of TBD starters on both sides.

The Florence Freedom are members of the Independent Frontier League and play all home games 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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