Rascals Clinch West with Freedom Sweep
O'FALLON, Mo - Having been eliminated from post-season play by virtue of a middle-game defeat, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, fell flat offensively in a, 9-0, loss to the River City Rascals on Sunday night in the final game of the Frontier League regular-season. With the win, the Rascals claimed the West Division crown in front of their home fans at CarShield Field, and will take on the Joliet Slammers in the Divisional Round of the post-season beginning next week.
With the division on the line, River City (52-44) southpaw, Dan Ludwig (5-4) took the hill on three-days rest, but showed no signs of fatigue, stymieing the Freedom (49-47) offense to the tune of seven shut-out innings on his way to win number five on the season. The lefty out-dueled Steve Hagen (7-8), who swallowed the tough-luck loss, despite tallying quality start number eleven in eighteen outings in 2018.
Neither team produced a run in the first three innings, but the Rascals broke through in the home-half of the fourth, starting a string of five straight innings of at-least one-run scored. Zach Lavy continued his stand-out series offensively, cashing in the game's first run with an RBI-single that scored Mike Jurgella to give River City the, 1-0, lead. Hagen then beaned Paul Kronenfeld with the bases loaded in the fifth, pushing the home-team in front by two. After Zach Lavy went first to third on a sacrifice-bunt from Ransom LaLonde in the sixth, Kevin Suarez grew the lead to, 3-0, with a bounce-out to third.
Hagen would not come back out for the seventh, ending his night after six quality innings in which he surrendered six hits and three runs, with three walks and three whiffs.
The Freedom used three pitchers to escape a four-run seventh, starting the frame with right-hander Eric Gleese. Gleese tallied a quick strikeout, but was removed in favor of Mike Castellani after a issuing a double and a walk to the next two hitters. The lefty, Castellani ran into trouble, yielding back to back singles to Kronenfeld and Braxtom Martinez, with the latter plating two-more as the score became, 5-0, Rascals. Two-more runs would score courtesy a two-base error in left field from Keivan Berges on a fly-ball off the bat of Lavy, as River City made it a seven-run affair. Closer, Johnathon Tripp would take over on the mound from there, stopping the bleeding after hitting LaLonde to start his outing.
Ludwig did not come back out for the eighth, delivering a final line of seven shut-out innings, while allowing just two hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Side-arming righty, Jackson Sigman notched a clean frame in the visitors penultimate at-bat of the ballgame, keeping the score, 7-0, home team.
River City continued their streak of scoring in the bottom of the eighth, getting a two-out, two-run single from Martinez, who was thrown out attempting to make it a double for the final out of the inning.
Chad Gendron would keep the Freedom off the board in the ninth, pitching around a pair of singles from a pinch-hitting, Cutter McDowell and Jordan Brower, tallying two strikeouts and coaxing Taylor Bryant into a game-ending pop-out to second as the Rascals claimed a, 9-0, victory and the West Division crown.
As the Freedom embark on the 2018 off-season, they will say goodbye to five players whom will age out of the Frontier League ahead of the 2019 campaign. Jordan Kraus, Jordan Brower, Keivan Berges, Chuck Weaver and John Price Jr. will all move on, as Freedom skipper, Dennis Pelfrey begins designs on the 2019, twenty-four man roster.
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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Frontier League Stories from September 2, 2018
- Encina Pitches Complete Game, Miners Fall in Finale - Southern Illinois Miners
- Rascals Clinch West with Freedom Sweep - Florence Freedom
- Rascals Win West Division on Finale - River City Rascals
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- Towns Plays All Nine in 2018 Finale - Schaumburg Boomers
- Beach Bums End Season with Win over Windy City - Traverse City Beach Bums
- ThunderBolts Fall to Traverse City in Season Finale - Windy City ThunderBolts
- Wild Things Turn Attention to Playoffs - Washington Wild Things
- East Division Champions Set to Host FLDS Games September 7-9 - Washington Wild Things
- Grizzlies Win Dramatic Marathon - Gateway Grizzlies
- Miners Drop Absolute Heartbreaker to Grizzlies - Southern Illinois Miners
- Rascals Clinch Playoff Berth with Win over Freedom - River City Rascals
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