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Freedom blow late lead, fall to Miners again, will try to avoid series sweep today at UC Health Stadium

Despite carrying a four-run lead into the seventh inning, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, allowed seven unanswered runs en route to a stunning 11-8 loss to the Southern Illinois Miners Saturday at UC Health Stadium.

For the second time in as many nights, the Miners (30-41) scored a first inning run, as a lead-off double by Craig Massey paved the way for back-to-back productive outs and the game’s first run, with Nolan Earley plating Massey on a sacrifice fly.

The lead would not last long, however, as Florence (44-28) would score four in the bottom of the first. Andre Mercurio plated the Freedom’s first run with a ground-out to first, scoring Daniel Fraga, who had singled. Following a single by Jose Brizuela, Collins Cuthrell drove a double off the wall in left, allowing Brizuela to score. Jordan Brower then followed with an infield single and Andrew Godbold plated a pair with his first of two doubles on the night, pushing the Freedom in front, 4-1. Brizuela added a sacrifice fly in the second to stretch the lead to four runs.

Mercurio would lead the Freedom with a four-RBI night, his second of the season.

Trailing 5-1, Southern Illinois began chipping away in the top of the third, when Earley connected on his second home run of the series, a solo shot to pull the Miners within three. Then, with two outs in the top of the fourth, Southern Illinois got a run-scoring single from Craig Massey and a double off the bat of Romeo Cortina to score Massey, making it a one-run game, 5-4.

Florence answered with a two-spot in the bottom of the frame, though, as Mercurio dropped a line drive into center, scoring Garrett Vail and Fraga, who had both singled.

The Freedom would again add to their lead in the home half of the sixth. Following a Fraga walk and a Taylor Oldham single, Brizuela grounded into a fielder’s choice that moved Fraga to third base. Mercurio then bunted Fraga home, giving Florence a four-run advantage.

In the top of the seventh, with Florence in front 8-4, relief pitcher Mike Anthony (0-1) replaced Freedom starter Jordan Kraus. After two singles and three walks plated two Southern Illinois runs, Anthony was replaced by Jamal Wilson, who inherited a bases-loaded situation. Massey then turned the momentum in the Miners’ favor with a bases clearing double that pushed Southern Illinois in front, 9-8. Cortina then added a sacrifice fly.

Brett Wiley hit a solo home run off Freedom reliever Enrique Zamora in the eighth inning, pushing the Miners in front by the eventual final score of 11-8.

Tre Hobbs (1-0) picked up the win out of the bullpen, allowing one run on two hits over two innings in relief of starter Robby Rowland, whom the Freedom touched for seven runs (six earned) on ten hits.

The Freedom will look to avoid the series sweep in Sunday’s series finale. Braulio Torres-Perez (2-1) will start against Miners right-hander Corey Sessions (2-5). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 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.

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