O’FALLON, Mo. — The final game of the mid-week series between the River City Rascals and Florence Freedom played out with the same plot as the series as a whole. The Freedom (9-15) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but the Rascals (14-10) held them there and went on to win 8-4.
The first four batters of the game reached base and scored putting the Rascals in a 4-0 hole before many fans were even in their seats. Starter Tommy Organ definitely didn’t help himself by walking two of those first four, but the defense once again was subpar. His shortstop and catcher both threw balls away when pressured to make a throw by aggressive baserunning in the first. Right before Organ was pulled his second baseman attempted to flip the ball for a double play while rolling on the ground and it turned out as one would expect.
Rascals Manager Steve Brook made the aggressive move to go to the bullpen one out into the second inning, and his trust in the bullpen was rewarded. The River City ‘pen threw 7.2 innings of shutout ball the rest of the way.
Chandler Jagodzinski got the call first and was able to get two popups to strand two Freedom baserunners. He pitched two more innings before giving way to Will Schierholz. Schierholz pitched two innings, struck out three, and got credit for the win. Derek Cape — who pitched in all three games of the series — and Heath Hatfield closed out the game.
At bat, the Rascals were almost equally consistent. Where as the Freedom scored in one quick burst and barely mustered a threat afterwards, River City scored in all but two frames in which they hit. Left fielder Brian Hansen went 4-for-5 with a triple and 2 RBIs to raise his average to a Ty Cobb-esque .424 on the season. Zach Kometani illustrated why they work to keep his bat in the lineup with a 3-for-3, 3 RBI night. Josh Ludy hit his third home run of the season by taking a pitch and depositing it in the back row of the vacant left field bleachers to leadoff the bottom of the fifth inning.
Florence starter Casey Henn was the losing pitcher by giving up 6 runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings. The leash given to starters was not the only drastic difference between the teams stylistically.
The Freedom was determined to run early and often. Four players stole a combined six bases. The aggressiveness helped produce a couple runs in the first, but they ran themselves out a possible big inning late in the game when Daniel Fraga took off so early Derek Cape had to step off and throw it to second himself. It was unclear if it was a timing break that Cape waited out or if they had on some kind of balk play (it did look Cape balked to me), but nevertheless it was certainly an interesting time down three runs in the seventh needing baserunners to get that kind of aggressive.
The Rascals will be back at T.R. Hughes Ballpark this weekend for a three-game set versus the Normal CornBelters (16-8). The Cornbelters are the only team standing between the Rascals and the first place Rockford Aviators in the Frontier League Western Division standings. In Game 1 on Friday, hometown kid Joe Scanio (3-2, 3.16) will “protect this house” from Chris Carmain (3-1, 2.38). Both won their only previous start this season against the other’s squad.
There is some rain in the forecast this weekend starting with Friday’s game, so we will keep you updated with any delays and postponements if the weathermen are right for once.
*A random piece of unsolicited advice for fans going to games this weekend or anytime the rest of the season. If you are picked to play “What’s in the Box?” just take the lotto scratchers. Someone picked the box last night and got “a bag of dirt Taylor Ard was standing on when he accepted his award for Frontier Player of the Week.”
Florence 400 000 000 – 4 8 0
River City 112 021 10x – 8 13 3