FLORENCE, Ky –The Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, made use of four hits and two home runs from designated hitter, Jordan Brower, en route to winning the opener of a crucial West Division series against the Evansville Otters, 5-4, in come from behind fashion on Tuesday night at UC Health Stadium.
Florence (17-17) started the scoring in the bottom of the second off Evansville (17-16) southpaw, Austin Nicely (2-3). Xavier Turner started the rally with a one out double off the wall in left-center, his sixth two-bagger of the season. Brower made it count one batter later, launching his first of two home runs, a two-run shot to right vaulting the Freedom in front, 2-0, entering the third frame. In the bottom of the fourth, a pair of two-out singles from Brower and Keivan Berges allowed Jacob Wark to extend the Florence lead to three with an RBI-bloop single to left that put the Freedom on top, 3-0.
Evansville would jump in front in the top of the fifth, however, touching up Kraus for all four of their runs in the frame. Mike Rizzitello led-off with his first home run of the season, a solo shot to left-center before the Otters roped three consecutive doubles to account for another two runs, making the score, 3-3. Travis Harrison put Evansville in front by one with a hard ground ball to third that took a wicked hop over the glove of Turner for an RBI-single as the Otters took a, 4-3 lead.
Brower smashed his second home run of the night to tie the game at four in the Freedom half of the sixth. The designated hitter would finish his night a perfect 4-4 at the plate, with two long-balls and a pair of singles.
Nicely finished his outing having totaled six innings, allowing twelve hits and four runs while striking out three.
The Otters called on Garrett Harris out of the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, and after recording two quick outs, Skylar Ewing blasted his first home run of the season to break the tie and put Florence ahead by one at, 5-4. Ewing, who was making his Freedom debut, finished the night 1-4 at the plate and gunned the only Evansville runner who attempted to steal at second in his first start as the Freedom catcher.
Kraus exited after seven innings, allowing four runs on ten hits with one walk and four strikeouts en route to his third win of the season. After Jake Haberer tallied a clean top of the eighth on the bump, Johnathon Tripp entered in search of his third save in the ninth. The closer worked around some early trouble, issuing a walk to the first man he faced, but retired the side in order after the free pass as Florence took the opener, 5-4. Ricky Ramirez Jr. recorded the final out, laying out in right field to squeeze a Toby Thomas liner to put the game on ice.
The Freedom will play their first home matinee of the season on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 12:05 PM at UC Health Stadium. Right-hander Chuck Weaver will get the ball to start the game for the Freedom as they look to win their second series in a row.