AVON, Oh– In pursuit of their third consecutive series victory, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, topped the Lake Erie Crushers, 1-0, sealing the weekend set and jumping one game over .500 for the first time since May 30, on Saturday night at Sprenger Stadium.
For the second time in as many nights, the game belonged to the Freedom (25-24) starting pitcher. In his first start since being activated off the 14-Day disabled list, Christian DeLeon (3-2) mowed through the Lake Erie (25-24) offense to the tune of 6.2 hit-less innings. The Crushers first base-runner came in the bottom of the fourth, when the Nebraska alum walked lead-off hitter Aaron Hill to lose his bid for perfection. Lake Erie would not get their first hit until Joel McKeithan dropped a soft-liner in front of Ricky Ramirez Jr. in center with two dead in the bottom of the seventh. DeLeon would not come back out in the eighth, giving way to Jake Haberer after spinning a stunning 7 shut-out innings, conceding one hit while punching out five with one walk.
Alex Romero (4-3) built into a similar rhythm on the mound for the Crushers, but surrendered the only run Florence would need in the top of the first inning. After Jordan Brower reached first on a fielder’s choice in the frame, Skyler Ewing moved him to second with a slow come-backer to Romero. With two outs, Jacob Wark lined a single into left to score Brower, giving the All-Star, Wark 26 runs batted in on the season, second-most on the team. Romero would take the loss, despite tallying a quality start that included seven innings of one run baseball, five scattered hits, three walks and five strikeouts.
After Haberer notched a scoreless bottom of the eighth that saw him collect one strikeout, Johnathon Tripp toed the slab to seal the victory in the ninth. Tripp, who will play for the Rookie team in next week’s mid-summer classic, gave up a walk and a base-hit, but induced Kewby Meyer into a game ending double play to convert his fourth save of the season. With the loss, Lake Erie has now dropped seven games in a row, the last two of which have been Freedom shut-outs.