FLCS evens at one game apiece as the series moves to O’Fallon, Mo on Friday
FLORENCE, Ky– Relentless early offense and a dominant Scott Sebald on the bump, helped the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, to a Frontier League Championship Series evening, 6-4, win over the River City Rascals on Wednesday night at UC Health Stadium.
Experienced lefty, Scott Sebald (2-0) set an early tone on the hill for the Freedom (1-1), stranding Andrew Penner at second en route to a clean top of the first that included a pair of strikeouts. The southpaw would go on to fan nine batters over seven strong innings in which River City (1-1) scored one run.
On the heels of the quick top half of the first, Florence quickly got to work on offense, plating three runs off Rascals right-hander, TaylorAhearn (1-1) in their side of the frame. Caleb Lopes, who would go on to record his first four hit game of the season, handed the home team an early, 1-0, advantage, following a walk to Ricky Ramirez Jr. with an RBI-double that plugged the gap in left-center field. Not done there, Andre Mercurio netted a single that moved Lopes to third, and Isaac Benard plated Mercurio with a fielder’s choice. Jumping ahead, 3-0, next, it was Brandon Pugh who laced a double down the line in right, Benard touching home as the Freedom seized control out of the gates.
The Rascals would get one run back in their side of the second, Nick Anderson maximizing an L.J. Kalawaia single by shooting an RBI-double off the base of the wall in left-center. Zach Lavy, who reached on a walk in the frame, would try to make it a two-run knock, but was gunned at the plate for the third out of the inning.
Leading, 3-1, three more Freedom runs would score off Ahearn in the third, the pitcher stepping aside after recording one out in the inning. Lopes and Mercurio started the inning with a pair of singles, the latter moving runners to first and third. Benard followed with a sacrifice-fly to plate Lopes, and Ryan Rinsky tapped an infield single that saw River City shortstop, Trevor Achenbach throw wildly to first, allowingMercurio to scamper across home as the score moved to, 5-1. Austin Wobrock added a sacrifice-fly two batters later, the Crimson and White earning a five-run advantage at, 6-1.
Ahearn suffered the loss, his first of the postseason, totaling 2.1 innings of work and allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits with one walk and a pair of punch-outs.
With Florence still in front by five after six innings, right-hander, Jared Cheek took over on the bump for Sebald. The starter, Sebald, scattered six hits over six one-run innings in victory, walking two and whiffing nine. Going back to his final start against River City in the regular-season, Sebald has now struck-out 19 Rascals in his last two starts against the club.
Cheek would run into some trouble in the seventh, as River City mounted a late charge that saw the visitors score the final three runs of the game unanswered. After a walk and a pair of singles from Tanner Murphy and Penner loaded the bases with nobody out, Nolan Meadows plated one grounding into a 3-6-1 double-play as the score shifted to, 6-2. Martinez added one more in the inning, rolling an RBI-single to center, the run batted in the first of the postseason for the Rascals three-hole hitter.
Karl Craigie emerged in search of a two inning save in the eighth, corralling the River City offense in his first inning of work. Anderson jumped on a first pitch fastball to start the ninth, however, the solo-homer becoming the first pro dinger for Anderson. Craigie would calm down, retiring the side to earn his third save of the postseason and stalemate the FLCS at one game apiece.
A travel day awaits on Thursday, before Game 3 goes underway in O’Fallon, Mo on Friday night at CarShield Field. Florence will trot-out right-hander, Zak Spivy (1-0, 0.00) while the Rascals counter with righty, Austin Dubsky (1-0, 0.00) with first pitch slated for 6:35 p.m.
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 florencefreedom.com, or by phone at (859) 594-4487.