August 4, 2017 - Frontier League (FL) - River City Rascals
The River City Rascals (38-33) were held to just two hits and were shutout for the first time at CarShield Field this year, 5-0, in the series finale against the Florence Freedom (44-26) Thursday night. Overall, it was the third time the Rascals were shutout in 2017 and second time in the last nine days.
Right-hander Tim Koons was tagged with the loss, his fourth of the year, and allowed four runs, earned, on five hits and struck out five.
All four of the runs charged to the fourth year Rascal came via a pair of two-out, two RBI extra-base hits from the heart of the Freedom order.
The first two runs came in the top of the third inning during slugger Jose Brizuela's at-bat. With Daniel Fraga on second and two outs, Brizuela stroked an 0-2 pitch over the right field wall for his team leading 13th home run of the year and those two runs would go on to be the game winning runs.
Koons held the opponent to just one hit through the next four frames and then ran into trouble again in the eighth inning.
After a controversial call that could have resulted as the third out of the inning, Taylor Oldham sent a single into center field and would advance to third one batter later when Brizuela once again sent the ball over the wall.
However this time, the ball went over the wall after a bounce resulting in a ground-rule double that gave the Freedom runners on second and third with two outs.
The ground-rule double initially halted Oldham scampering home and the Rascals had a chance to get out of the inning trailing 2-0.
With left-handed bat Andre Mercurio due up, the Rascals manager Steve Brook went to his situational lefty Anthony Paesano to try and strand his fourth and fifth baserunners of the year.
The southpaw from Georgia Southern got ahead in the count 1-2 but would end up losing the battle on the fifth pitch of the at-bat and was beat with a two RBI double down the right field line that extended the Freedom's lead to 4-0.
Matt Dallas made his professional debut in the ninth and a leadoff walk would come around to score on a RBI ground out from Austin Wobrock to finalize the scoring in the 5-0 contest.
Offensively for the Rascals, they had a multitude of opportunities despite only notching two hits.
The first opportunity came in the bottom of the first as the Freedom starter Sam Brunner walked Mike Jurgella and Johnny Morales. However, Jurgella was caught stealing and after another walk, Brunner settled down and was able to strand both runners on base.
Brunner also walked two guys in the third but tallied a strikeout and a flyout to keep the early shutout alive.
Brandon Thomas and Josh Silver were the only Rascals to notch a hit, however, they were both in separate innings and a double play ball would end up occurring in both frames to erase the baserunners.
Brunner only lasted 2.2 innings so he was not credited with the win. The starter's first reliever, Enrique Zamora earned it, his second of the year as he kept the Rascals scoreless through 2.1 innings.
Freedom relievers Mike Anthony, Jamal Wilson and Pete Perez followed Zamora to complete their second shutout of the season.
"Two infield singles isn't going to work," Brook said "They walked six guys and hit two, so essentially, they gave us eight free passes.They only struck out four guys and you can't have a 2:1 walk to strikeout ratio and get shutout."
The Rascals look to get their bats going again on Friday night as they open up a key three game series against the current wild card holder Evansville Otters.
"We gave away a couple games this week but we have had great run here so far in the second half of the season," Brook said. "We got to move on and do whatever it takes to have a good series against Evansville and try to put us in a good position for the last 25 games."