FLORENCE, Ky – In a pivotal West Division clash, The Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, scored five un-answered runs en route to a, 5-3, victory over the River City Rascals on Tuesday night at UC Health Stadium.
River City (38-36) jumped ahead early, tallying four consecutive singles to start the game, one of which was a two-run knock for Clint Freeman as the Rascals held an early, 2-0, edge. Then with Freeman at third, Kronenfeld made it a three-run game when he grounded into a double play for the first two outs of the inning. Braxton Martinez was retired one batter later, flying out to centerfield, putting Florence in the, 3-0, hole after one half inning of play.
Hector Hernandez (8-5) got two quick outs in the bottom of the first, but the opening frame has been the best all season for the Freedom, who continued the trend on Tuesday. After Hernandez walked Skyler Ewing, Ricky Ramirez Jr. launched the first pitch he saw over the wall to the opposite field, making it a one-run game at, 3-2. The long-ball was the eighth of the season for Ramirez, who also pushed his RBI total to an even 30 with the blast. Two innings later, Ewing upped his team-leading home run total to 11, also attacking the first pitch from Hernandez for a solo-shot to knot the score at three.
Florence would un-tie the game, taking their first lead in the bottom of the seventh. Jacob Wark gave Florence life with two outs, motoring down the line to beat out an infield single after a check swing slow-roller to third. John Price Jr. then proceeded to unload a mammoth homer to left-center off Hernandez, clearing the scoreboard in the power alley to hand the Freedom a, 5-3, lead. Hernandez issued a walk to Austin Wobrock next, prompting Rascals manager, Steve Brook to make a pitching change. Right-hander, Ryan Orr would finish the frame, and the game on the hill, tallying 1.1 scoreless innings of work.
Hernandez finished his day having spanned 6.2 innings, allowing five runs on six hits to go along with two walks and six strikeouts.
For Florence, Kraus was brilliant after the three-run first, the righty settled into a groove on the way to seven innings pitched. After the four straight hits to start the game, he faced the minimum over his next 19 batters. He allowed three runs, only two of which were earned, on five hits and did not walk anyone while striking out seven in a quality start.
No runs were scored in the eighth off Freedom lefty Evan Korsen, setting the table for All-Star closer, Johnathon Tripp. Tripp worked an efficient 1-2-3 inning for his 10thsave as Florence started their biggest series of the season with a, 5-3, win. The Rascals did not record a base-hit after a JD Hearn single in the top of the third.
The Freedom now have a chance to win the series in the middle game, and Mike Castellani will be on the bump as they look for the series win. River City will hand the ball to Jonny Ortiz as the visitors attempt to force a rubber match in the finale on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM at UC Health Stadium.