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Freedom salvage finale with Crushers on strength of Reicheborn’s two homers, four RBIs

The Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, beat the Lake Erie Crushers, 9-6, despite a ninth-inning comeback Sunday night at UC Health Stadium to salvage the finale in a weekend three-game set.

Former Cincinnati Reds closer, Danny Graves, started the game for the Freedom as part of their “Big Leaguer’s Day” at the ballpark.

Graves retired the first batter of the game on a flyout to left, before giving up a single to Hill, which is when the Florence ace entered.

Florence (35-17) left fielder, Tyler Reichenborn, started the game off with a solo blast to right field off Lake Erie (25-23) starter, Patrick Ledet (2-4), giving the Freedom the early lead, 1-0.

Taylor Bryant followed immediately with a double down the left-field line, setting up a sacrifice bunt situation later in the inning for Andre Mercurio.  

The lefty beat out the bunt for an infield single, putting runners on the corners with one out. Ricky Ramirez Jr. hit a ground ball to third base, allowing Bryant to score on a fielder’s choice, increasing their early lead to, 2-0.

Early walks in the bottom of the fourth by Ryan Rinsky and Connor Crane brought Tyler Reichenborn to the dish, who launched a three-run homer to right field as the Freedom lead increased again, this time to, 5-0.

In his shortest outing of the season, Ledet only lasted four innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, whiffing five and walking three in the losing effort.

Steven Kraft and Aaron Hill started a comeback in the top of the sixth inning for the Crushers after a single and a walk off Tyler Gibson (7-1) was followed by an Emmanuel Marrero one-bagger, plating Kraft to cut the lead to four.

Zach Racusin knocked a ground-rule double, scoring Hill from second as the visitor’s inched closer at, 5-2.  John Cable responded later in the inning with a sac fly to center, trimming the Florence advantage to, 5-3.

Tyler Gibson logged an unofficial quality start, his fourth straight, spanning 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits while fanning two and walking one.  Gibson has only walked two batters in his last four outings.

The Freedom returned the favor in the bottom half of the sixth, with Rinsky drawing a walk, followed by an Austin Wobrock sac-bunt and he and Rinsky were safe, thanks to a Jared Koenig throwing error while attempting to land the force at second.

Later in the frame, Wobrock stole second drawing a throw from Karl Ellison behind the plate, paving the way for Rinsky to score as Florence moved ahead by three. Taylor Bryant then unloaded a two-run bomb to right field, his third homer of the year offering two more runs of insurance for the Freedom who now led, 8-3.

Florence scored one more run in the bottom of the seventh, courtesy a Luis Pintor sacrifice-fly after an Andre Mercurio triple led-off the frame.

Pulling within three in the ninth, Lake Erie quickly loaded the bases off Freedom right-hander, Joe Mortillaro, earning a pair of walks and a single. 

Karl Ellison then drew a walk to plate a run, with Zak Spivy taking over on the mound to face Steven Kraft. Kraft would knock an RBI-single, scoring Dale Burdick from third as the visitors closed in at, 9-5. With the bags still loaded and no outs, closer, Johnathon Tripp, toed the slab to stop the bleeding.

The All-Star came through, allowing just a sacrifice-fly that made the game, 9-6, before slamming the door while facing the minimum. The save was the eleventh of the year for the right-hander, tied for most in the Frontier League.

Florence will send six players to Rockland County, N.Y. for the All-Star game between the Frontier League and Can-Am league Wednesday.  

Freedom closer, Tripp, will toe the slab to start the game, with Ramirez Jr. and Wobrock getting the nod for starting spots as well.

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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