SAUGET, Ill. — After falling behind early, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, rallied back and fought off a late threat en route to a 6-4 victory over the Gateway Grizzlies for a series sweep Sunday night at GCS Ballpark.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the second inning, the Freedom (3-0) put runners on second and third against Gateway (0-3) starter Dylan Craig (0-1). Ozzy Braff hit a bouncer over the mound for an infield single to tie the score, and after Braff later stole second, Daniel Fraga delivered a ground ball single to left, scoring two runs for a 3-1 Florence lead.
Craig would last just three and two-thirds innings, walking seven and surrendering six runs (three earned). Cody Gray (1-0) tossed five innings of one-run ball before giving way to Marty Anderson and Eli Garcia, who combined for three scoreless frames in relief.
After the Grizzlies got one run back in the bottom of the second, the Freedom would go on to add three runs over the next two innings on a RBI-single and a bases-loaded walk by Andre Mercurio, and a passed ball that allowed Fraga to score from third.
In addition to plating the decisive runs, Fraga led the club with five hits in the game, all singles.
Entering the ninth with a 6-2 lead, Sam Brunner allowed a Bre’Shon Kimbell single between a popout and a strikeout. Patrick McGrath and Evan Bickett yielded a single and a walk, respectively, loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate with two out. Matt Pobereyko then entered and gave up a single to right-center, scoring two. But with Craig Massoni representing the winning run at the plate, Pobereyko bore down and struck out Gateway’s cleanup hitter, recording the save and handing Florence the series sweep.
The Freedom will play their home opener at UC Health Stadium on Wednesday against the Southern Illinois Miners at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Jordan Kraus is scheduled to pitch for Florence.
Group tickets and season ticket plans are currently on sale for the 2017 campaign. Fans can guarantee seating for premium promotional dates by calling the Freedom at 859-594-4487.