Frank Valentino allows one hit on the way to third win, fifth quality start
FLORENCE, Ky. — In the middle game between two first-place teams in their respective divisions, the Florence Freedom presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, captured the series victory against the Schaumburg Boomers with a, 7-1, win on Wednesday night at UC Health Stadium.
Florence (18-10) would score at-least one run in their first four at-bats, jumping in front, 1-0, in the bottom of the first when Tyler Reichenborn laced an RBI-single to center off Boomers (16-13) starter, Connor Reed (2-2), scoring Caleb Lopes from second. The Freedom would add three more in the second frame, getting a lead-off single from Jackson Pritchard that set-up a two-run shot from Connor Crane. The team leader in big-flies, Crane has now circled the bases five times on the young season. Not done scoring in the second, Luis Pintor stroked a single two batters after the homer and came around to score when Lopes followed with a two-bagger to left.
Injured on the pitch to Lopes, Reed would exit after 1.2 innings with an apparent elbow injury, replaced on the hill by right-hander, Devin Rose. Reed would allow four earned runs on six hits over his abbreviated start.
Now in front, 4-0, the Freedom continued hitting in the home side of the third, Crane again producing the RBI with a sacrifice-fly to center, plating Mike Gulino who led-off the frame with a single. Gulino was bunted to second by Brandon Pugh before stealing third base to setup the sacrifice. The RBI was number 21 on the year for Crane, who leads the club in that category. Leading, 5-0, in the bottom of the fourth, the home team would plate their final pair of runs for the game, getting a second run-scoring single from Reichenborn ahead of a Pugh sacrifice-fly as the game became a seven-run affair.
With a no-hitter still intact in the top of the fifth, Florence starter, Frank Valentino (3-2) would issue a lead-off walk to Julio Gonzalez before seeing his bid for history fall short, Rayden Sierra shooting a line-drive to right that put runners on the corners. Dylan Jones would make the walk hurt, lifting a sacrifice-fly of his own as the score moved to, 7-1, the eventual final.
Masterful on the mound again, Valentino would span seven one-run innings before handing the ball to John LaRossa to finish the final two frames. The right-hander would allow just the Sierra single and added 8 strikeouts to push his team-leading total to 43. LaRossa worked quick in relief, adding a pair of strikeouts himself on the way to slamming the door on the six-run, series clinching victory. The Freedom have now won five-straight games as their longest winning streak of the season continues.
These two teams will square off one more time on Thursday in the finale of this East vs. West showdown of first-place teams. The Freedom will look for their second consecutive sweep, handing the ball to right-hander, Dan Williams who makes his Freedom debut on the bump. Schaumburg will counter with righty, Erik Martinez with first pitch slated for 6:35 p.m. at UC Health Stadium.
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