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Freedom just keep on winning; doubleheader sweep of Miners boosts record to 6-0 to start season

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The Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, claimed both games of a doubleheader by scores of 7-2 and 10-2 on Thursday night at UC Health Stadium to sweep the three-game series from the Southern Illinois Miners.

In the first game, the Freedom (6-0) rallied for three runs against Miners starter Corey Sessions (0-1). Andre Mercurio plated two with a single to right field and Jordan Brower hit a RBI-single against his former team. Florence added one run each in the second and third innings for a 5-0 advantage.

After retiring the first 11 batters in order, Tony Vocca (2-0) walked Nolan Earley before giving up a two-run homer to Justin Chigbogu in the fourth, bringing Southern Illinois within three runs. But Andrew Godbold cleared the scoreboard with a two-run shot to left-center in the bottom half, and Vocca would earn the win after striking out 10 batters and allowing just one hit over six innings. Eli Garcia pitched a perfect seventh in relief.

In the nightcap, Southern Illinois’ Joel McKeithan led off the top of the second with a line-drive homer that barely cleared the left field wall. Florence promptly tied the score in the home half on a RBI-double by Collins Cuthrell, but the Miners climbed back on top with a RBI-single by Earley.

The lead would not stand, however, as the Freedom rallied for five runs off right-hander Ethan Gibbons (0-1), facing his former team for the first time. Godbold tied the score at 2-2 with a RBI-single and then scored from third when Andre Mercurio lifted a sacrifice fly to left field. Two walks would follow, and Garrett Vail capped the rally with a three-run single to the wall in right-center.

Relievers Nick Palacios and Chris DeBoo could not put out the fire for the Miners (2-4)  . Florence added one more run in the fourth inning and three in the fifth for an eight-run cushion. Eight of the nine players in the starting lineup collected hits, including Mike Morris, who went 2-for-3 with a stolen base and three runs scored in his Freedom debut.

Right-hander Logan Longwith (1-0) went five innings in his first start of the season before giving way to Patrick McGrath and Evan Bickett, who each tossed one perfect inning to complete the sweep.

The Freedom will visit the Normal CornBelters for a three-game series beginning Friday with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Central Time. Cody Gray (1-0) will start for Florence against a yet-to-be-determined starter for the CornBelters.

Group tickets and season ticket plans are currently on sale for the 2017 campaign. Fans can guarantee seating for premium promotional dates by calling the Freedom at 859-594-4487.

Florence Freedom

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