Grizzlies Lose on Heart-Breaking Walk-Off
FLORENCE, Ky. - With the Gateway Grizzlies an out away from their second straight win, Florence Freedom pinch-hitter Jackson Pritchard launched a three-run, walk-off home run over the left-field wall on the first pitch he saw and the Grizzlies lost, 5-4, in the series opener Friday night at UC Health Stadium.
Gateway (15-21) fell to 5-23 against Florence (23-12) since the start of 2017 and 0-4 this year. The Freedom took sole possession of first place in the West Division.
Lucas Lanphere worked six innings of two-run ball and struck six. He was in line for the win until the final batter of the game but did not factor in the decision.
After they fell behind 1-0 after the first inning and 2-1 after the fifth, the Grizzlies scored a pair in the top of the sixth inning on back-to-back RBI singles by Jamey Smart and Matt Brown.
Brown, who was activated from the injured reserve Tuesday for the first time in 2019, has hit in all three games as a Grizzlie and posted one RBI in each game.
Gateway added an insurance run in the eighth inning on a Zak Taylor RBI single.
Taylor, who made his professional debut Tuesday, has hit in his first three games as a Grizzlie. He finished 3-for-4 with his first multi-hit game, first double, and first RBI as a pro. Tyler Plantier added a 3-for-4 performance in his professional debut.
Although Taylor and Plantier were excellent in the No. 8 and No. 9 spots in the Grizzlies' batting order, the middle of the lineup was unable to capitalize on extensive opportunities.
Gateway stranded nine runners on base, including six over the final three innings. In the seventh, the Grizzlies had the bases loaded, nobody out, and the 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Shawon Dunston Jr. popped up, Andrew Daniel struck out, and Jamey Smart followed with a pop-up of his own to strand Taylor, Plantier, and Brent Sakurai on base.
Jason Seever pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Dakota Smith struck out the side in order in the eighth. They both earned holds.
Grant Black (0-3) took the loss and his third blown save in 10 opportunities this season.
Gateway and Florence will continue their four-game series Saturday at 5:05 p.m. CDT.
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