Fighting Freedom Fall Short at Evansville
EVANSVILLE, In - Riding in on a four-game winning streak, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, fell short of a ninth-inning come-back in a 4-3, loss to the Evansville Otters on Friday night at historic Bosse Field.
Evansville (37-38) took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the second off Freedom (39-37) hurler, Tyler Gibson (3-4). A trio of consecutive singles to start the frame loaded the bases before an error in right field allowed Jeff Gardner to score from third and give the Otters the, 1-0, edge. One batter later, Zach Welz made it a two-run game rolling an infield single to second. Gibson would get an inning-ending double-play from David Cronin next, bringing Florence to the plate trailing, 2-0, in the third.
Otters starter, Spencer Medick was tough to solve en route to three perfect innings to start the game, but the Freedom would even the score on the southpaw in the visitor's side of the fourth. After Caleb Lopes thwarted the pitcher's perfect game bid by reaching on a walk, Skyler Ewing ended the no-hitter and shut-out with one swing of the bat, lacing a triple off the wall in left-center to pull the Freedom within one. Ricky Ramirez Jr. followed the triple with a sharply-hit RBI-single, scoring Ewing as the score stalemated at, 2-2.
Medick would continue his start into the seventh inning, but was relieved by Matt Chavarria (2-0) with two outs remaining in the frame. The lefty totaled a final line of 6.1 innings, surrendering two runs on two hits with three walks and six whiffs. One of his six strikeouts came on a called strike three with Florence catcher Skyler Ewing in the box in the top of the sixth. Ewing would get ejected for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire, Eric Dunsford.
Gibson settled into a rhythm facing one over the minimum from the third through sixth innings, but saw Evansville re-claim their lead in the bottom of the seventh. JJ Gould started the rally with a flare that fell behind the mound and died in no-mans land for an infield single. Cullen then made it a second and third situation, bouncing a ground-rule double over the wall in the right field corner. After Welz walked to load the bases, Freedom skipper, Dennis Pelfrey, called on lefty specialist, Patrick McGrath to wiggle out of trouble. McGrath was able to coax Cronin into a fielder's choice, with shortstop Austin Wobrock gunning a runner at the plate after fielding a bounding ball to the left-side of the infield. An ensuing wild pitch would allow Gould to score from third, before Ryan Long pushed the Otters in front by a pair with a single up the middle. Both runs were charged to Gibson, whose final line included 6.1 innings, eight scattered hits leading to four runs, three earned, with one walk against five strikeouts.
With the score at, 4-2, in the top of the eighth, Wobrock found himself at second after connecting on a lead-off double off Otters reliever, Jeff Thompson. Jacob Wark, who subbed in after the ejection to Ewing, responded with an RBI-single two batters later, pulling the Freedom within one, 4-3. With Alex Phillips on the bump in the top of the ninth, Florence would continue to fight. Keivan Berges led-off by scorching a single to right-center, and found himself on second moments later after a Phillips wild pitch. The play of the game was made two batters later, when Taylor Bryant delivered a hot-shot single to right. Bryant's first Freedom hit allowed Berges to try and score from second base, but Gardner made a perfect relay to the plate, gunning Berges to maintain the Evansville one-run edge. Bryant would take second on the throw, but saw Ryan Rinsky caught looking at strike-three as the Otters escaped with the one-run, 4-3, victory. The save was Phillips second of the season.
These two West Division rivals will collide in a twin-bill at Bosse Field tomorrow. Florence will trot out a pair of right-handers, Steve Hagen and Christian DeLeon, opposite righty Randy Wynne and a TBD starter for Evansville. First pitch of game one is slated for 5:05 p.m. CT, with game two to follow roughly forty-five minutes after the conclusion of the leader.
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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