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Freedom Rout Wild Things in Opener

May 22, 2019 - Frontier League (FL) - Florence Freedom News Release

WASHINGTON, Pa - Following a pair of off-days, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, appeared well-rested in a, 17-3, shellacking of the Washington Wild Things on Wednesday afternoon at Wild Things Park.

Jumping out of the gates, it was the Freedom (6-4) who drew first blood in the top of the first, getting a two-out, two-run homer from Andre Mercurio off Things (2-9) starter, Michael Austin (1-1). The round-tripper was the first of the year for Mercurio, who would total four RBI in the affair. Adding to their advantage in the top of the third, Isaac Benard crossed home-plate after a delay steal from second to third forced Washington catcher, Lucas Herbert misfire into left field. Benard singled in the inning, and moved to second when Luis Pintor made it back-to-back singles in the frame, extending his hitting streak to ten games.

After a pair of three-up, three-down innings at the plate versus southpaw, Mike Castellani (2-0), Washington broke through scoring an unearned run in the bottom of the third. Two Freedom errors were instrumental in the endeavor, as Luis Pintor threw wide of first base on a potential double-play allowing Javier Betancourt to reach second before the Wild Things lineup rolled over. Saige Jenco then proceeded to drop a bloop single to left, but Benard over-threw the relay man allowing Betancourt to score, making it a two-run game at, 3-1. Castellani would face the minimum over his next four innings, retiring the side in order in six of his eight innings pitched in a marvelous performance.

The Freedom kept hitting in the fourth, netting a two-run single from Pintor as the score moved to, 5-1, Florence. Austin would last six frames on the mound for Washington, surrendering six hits and six runs, five earned, with three walks and six strikeouts in the losing effort.

Making his Wild Things debut on the bump to start the seventh, Dan Hlad would record just one out as the Freedom sent 12 men to the plate and blew the game open with a seven run barrage. Mercurio provided the first run-scoring hit of the frame, stroking a two-run single up the middle to push the visitors in front by six. Benard and Pintor both scored on the one-bagger, having reached base courtesy their second and third hits of the game, respectively, both singles. Caleb Lopes extended the lead next, knocking a sacrifice fly to score Ricky Ramirez Jr. Two straight walks to Austin Wobrock and Taylor Bryant spelled the end of the day for Hlad, replaced by Tyler Barss who inherited a one-out, bases loaded situation. Mike Gulino would greet the new hurler with a two-run single, pushing Florence ahead, 10-1, as the ninth batter of the inning came to the plate in the form of Connor Crane. Crane then added a sacrifice fly, making it an eleven-run game. Pinch-hitting for Pintor one batter later, Tommy Anderson recorded his first pro-hit with an infield single that scored Gulino and made the score, 12-1. Ramirez Jr. then grounded out to second to end the rally, Florence having scored seven runs on five hits when the smoke cleared. Barss would emerge again on the mound in the eighth, surrendering one-more run in his final inning of work, as Mercurio crossed home-plate on a Wobrock double-play.

With the score, 13-1, in the bottom of the eighth, Washington had their best inning at the plate off the Freedom southpaw, Castellani, plating a run on two hits and one more Freedom error, this time by Wobrock on a flip to second in search of a double-play. Castellani would go on to take the win, spanning 8 innings and allowing 2 unearned runs on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts in his first quality start of the season.

Adding to the onslaught, Florence batted around again in the ninth, scoring four more runs en route to a, 17-2, lead. Side-arming lefty, B.J. Sabol would start the inning on the hill, but would not record an out. Crane led-off the frame with his second home run of the season, a solo-shot to right that upped his team-leading RBI total to nine. Two-straight walks and a Ramirez single then loaded the bases for another pinch-hitter, Sean Watkins getting the call in Mercuiro's spot in the order. Watkins answered with a two-run single to right, becoming the second Freedom player to record his first pro hit as a pinch-hitter in the ballgame. Left-fielder, Mick Fennell would take over on the mound from here, walking two and yielding a sacrifice fly to Wobrock to make it a fifteen-run affair.

John LaRossa would toe the slab in search of the final three outs in the bottom of the ninth, allowing two hits including an RBI-single from Herbert on his way to slamming the door on a, 17-3, Freedom victory.

The fourteen-run win for Florence is the largest margin of victory in the Frontier League this season. The Freedom saw four men record multi-hit games, seven starters record at-least one hit, and nine guys get a hit in total. Benard and Mercurio each have a three-game hitting streak to go along with Pintor's ten-game terror, with Benard's being a three-game multi-hit streak.

These two teams will collide in a doubleheader at Wild Things Park on Thursday. Florence will trot-out right-hander, Tyler Gibson opposite lefty John Havird for the Things with game one slated to start at 5:05 p.m. Both teams have TBD pitchers for the night-cap that will start roughly 30 minutes after the final out 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 Way in Florence, KY. The Freedom can be found online at florencefreedom.com, or by phone at (859) 594-4487.


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