Freedom Snap Slammers Streak at Six
JOLIET,Il - With their opponent riding in on a six-game winning streak, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, played spoiler in a series opening, 4-1, victory over the first-place in the East, Joliet Slammers on Friday at Joliet Route 66 Stadium.
Making his first start of the season for Florence (29-28), right-hander Tyler Gibson (3-2) kept the Slammers (33-25) off-balance all night, totaling five shut-out innings on the way to out-dueling Joliet starter, Scot Hoffman (5-3).
With the game still scoreless in the top of the third, Florence broke through to take a three-run lead. It all started with lead-off single from Jacob Wark. The next man up, Austin Wobrock, rolled a second straight single in to right, only to see Ridge Hoopii-Haslam glove the ball spin and fire wildly to first, allowing Wark and Wobrock to take an extra base. Now, with runners at second and third and nobody out, Harrison White lined a come-backer off Hoffman setting-up a play at the plate. Hoffman was able to collect the baseball and throw home, but the catcher could not squeeze it as Wark slid in safely to give Florence the, 1-0, advantage. Caleb Lopes and Skyler Ewing would both tally RBI-singles in the frame, as the lead swelled to, 3-0, after 2.5 frames.
The Slammers best shot offensively came in the home half of the fifth, when they loaded the bases off Gibson with just one out. However, the right-hander struck out the last two batters he faced in successsion, qwelling the rally and holding Joliet scoreless through his five brilliant innings of work. Gibson would leave the game having scattered five hits with two walks and those two fifth inning strikeouts.
Florence made it a, 4-0, game in the top of the seventh, thanks to a two-base error by first baseman Trenton Hill on a Keivan Berges grounder. Berges was able to motor to second on the miscue, later scoring on a broken-bat line-drive single from Wark.
Joliet would break-up the shut-out in their next at-bat, scratching across a run off Eric Gleese in the seventh. After an Xavier Turner throwing error at third base, Chaz Meadows plated the Slammers only run of the night with a triple to straight-away center. Gleese would be pulled from the game after the play, giving way to Jake Haberer with one out to spare in the frame.
Haberer and Johnathon Tripp would finish the final 2.1 innings, with Tripp tallying his sixth save of the season in a scoreless bottom of the ninth. Tripp totaled one strikeout and rolled a game ending double play after a Hoopii-Haslam single to slam the door on the Freedom's twenty-ninth win of the season. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Slammers, who still remain in first in the East Division. Thanks to a River City Rascals loss on Friday to the Washington Wild Things, Florence sits just .5 out of first-place themselves in the West Division.
These two teams will go toe-to-toe again on Saturday in the middle-game of the series, with the Freedom trotting out right-hander Jordan Kraus, opposite righty Shane Bryant of the Slammers. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. CT at Joliet Route 66 Stadium.
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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