Freedom Take Middle Game over Otters
EVANSVILLE, In - Looking to keep their series winning streak alive, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, out-gunned the Evansville Otters in a, 7-2, victory at historic Bosse Field on Saturday night, setting up a rubber-match on Sunday afternoon.
For the second time in as many nights, it was the Freedom (5-3) who drew first blood, hanging a trio of runs on Evansville (4-4) in the top of the fifth inning. Mike Gulino started the rally, lacing a one-out single off Austin Nicely (0-2) for the first Freedom hit of the game. Connor Crane then followed suit with a one-bagger of his own, putting a pair of runners on base for Issac Benard. Benard responded by scorching a double down the line in left, plating both runners before taking third on a Jack Meggs error in the outfield. Luis Pintor made it a three-run game, driving a sacrifice fly to center to push the visitors ahead, 3-0.
Florence would give their starter, Frank Valentino (1-0) four more runs of support in the top of the seventh. After a Crane fly-out to start the frame, Florence touched Nicely for five straight singles, one of them coming from Luis Pintor to extend his season-long hitting streak to eight games. Caleb Lopes saw two men score on his infield single next, compounded by a David Cronin throwing error in an attempt to retire Lopes at first. With the score at, 5-0, Otters manager, Andy McCauley would make a pitching change, opting to go with lefty P.J. Browne. Browne would not record an out, surrendering an RBI single to Andre Mercurio as the Freedom lead grew to six. Ricky Ramirez Jr. made it five singles in a row one batter later, and Taylor Bryant was hit by a pitch marking the end of the night for Browne. Right-hander, Taylor Wright would take over on the hill, but Gulino added one more run of an insurance, knocking a sixth single in the inning to score Mercurio and put Florence ahead, 7-0.
Valentino was masterful in his second start of the season, shutting the Otters out over seven brilliant innings. The righty finished with a final line of 7 innings pitched, three hits surrendered and seven strikeouts, a new season-high.
Evansville would score a pair of runs off the Freedom bullpen in the bottom of the eighth. Lefty Jonny Reid recorded two quick outs including a strikeout, but surrendered a double and two walks to load the bases. Right-hander, Sean Watkins took over from there, yielding a two-run single to Taylor Lane before fanning Mitchell Hansen to end the inning with the score at, 7-2, Freedom. Ryan Mordecai toed the slab in the bottom of the ninth, making quick work of the Otters to put the five-run victory on ice.
Nicely would take the loss, spanning 6.1 frames and allowing six runs, five earned on eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
The Freedom and Otters will wrap their weekend set on Sunday afternoon, the first day-game of the season for Florence. Right-hander, Jackson Owens will make his anticipated debut on the bump versus rightyTyler Beardsley for Evansville with first pitch slated for 12:35 p.m. CST.
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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