Ewing Blast Pushes Freedom Past Normal
NORMAL, Il - In game one of a West Division series with major post-season implications, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, rode an electric start from Tyler Gibson and a Skyler Ewing two-run homer in the top of the eighth to a, 5-4, victory over the Normal CornBelters on Tuesday at the Corn Crib.
After two scoreless innings to open the game, Belters (43-39) starter Jack Landwehr suffered a lower extremity injury with two outs in the third, coming up lame while running to cover first on an Austin Wobrock fielder's choice. The right-hander would be replaced by Anthony Herrera, who inherited runners on the corners. Caleb Lopes would push the Freedom (43-42) in front, shooting an RBI-single up the middle for his second hit of the night. Landwehr's final line included 2.2 innings, one earned run on three hits with one walk and one strikeout in the no-decision.
Normal evened the score in their next at-bat, plating an unearned run when Michael Baca grounded into a 6-3 double play. Cody Erickson scored the run, but reached on a throwing error by shortstop, Wobrock. Santiago Chirino put the home team ahead for the first time in the home half of the fourth, connecting on an opposite field homer to right, a solo-shot to make it a, 2-1 game. Two innings later, Derrick Loveless followed suit, launching a mammoth long-ball to right-center that increased the Normal lead to two after six complete. The CornBelters would not score again off Gibson, who tallied his fourth quality-start en route to his fourth victory. The converted starter set a new season-high in innings pitched, spanning 7.2 frames while holding the Belters offense to three runs, two earned, on six hits with no walks and five whiffs.
Wobrock would knot the score at three in the visitors side of the seventh, making good on a Taylor Bryant walk and a double from John Price Jr. by beating the shift with a two-run single to left. Bryant would reach base in all four at-bats, while increasing his consecutive games with multiple-hits streak to three, netting a pair of singles. With the score still tied at three and Ricky Ramirez Jr. standing at second after a double in the top of the eighth, Skyler Ewing put the Freedom in front for the final time. Facing Jonathon De Marte (3-4), Ewing muscled up on his fourteenth round-tripper of the season, the two-run shot went sailing into the corn in right-center, and gave Florence a, 5-3, lead they would not relinquish.
Freedom closer, Johnathon Tripp entered the game with runners on the corners and one-out in the bottom of the ninth, and was able to pitch around a second Florence error that plated a second unearned run, tallying his thirteenth save of the season in the, 5-4, victory over the Belters. Normal has now dropped five games in a row, but remains atop the West Division standings, while the Freedom sit 1.5 games back in third.
These two teams will meet in the middle-game of this mid-week series on Wednesday, with the Freedom trotting out their ace, right-hander Jordan Kraus opposite southpaw, Nick Bozman of Normal. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. CT at the Corn Crib.
The Florence Freedom are members of the Independent Frontier League and play all home games at UC Health Stadium located at 7950 Freedom Wayin Florence, KY. The Freedom can be found online at florencefreedom.com, or by phone at (859) 594-4487.
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