The River City Rascals defeated the Florence Freedom 7-5 in Game 5 of the Frontier League Championship Series on Monday night, earning their second league title, and first since 2010. The championship marks the end of the team’s 21-year run in O’Fallon, as they announced in August that they would cease operations at the end of the season. Outfielder LJ Kalawaia was named the FLCS MVP, and hit a key two-run double in a pivotal six-run seventh inning.
The Freedom jumped out to an early start, getting an RBI single from Isaac Benard in the first inning. The Rascals responded with an RBI single from Tanner Murphy in the fourth, before the Freedom regained the lead with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth.
After Ricky Ramirez Jr.’s RBI single in the sixth gave the Freedom a 3-1 lead, the Rascals rattled off six in the seventh, getting an RBI single from James Morisano, Kalawaia’s two-run double, a two-run triple from Kameron Esthay, and a sacrifice fly from Zach Lavy to take a 7-3 lead.
The Freedom were able to rally for two runs in the bottom of the ninth, before Andrew Vernon got Brandon Pugh to pop-up to Lavy at first to seal the victory and earn the save.
Rascals starter Jason Zgardowski allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision, while Anthony Herrera (1-0) earned the win. The Rascals also got two key innings of relief from Taylor Ahearn. Freedom starter Scott Sebald (2-1) took the loss, allowing three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts.