Florence drops two of three on road at Joliet

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The Florence Y’alls know every series loss going forward hurts their chances of making the Frontier League playoffs.

The Y’alls (31-39) had one of those series losses over the weekend dropping two of three to host Joliet (34-36). Florence remains in seventh place out of eight teams in the West Division. Both losses were one-run games.

“I think the first night they gave it to us. We responded well that game two,” said Brian White, Florence manager. “We just fell short (in game three). I think our guys battled. We gave away some free bags those late innings and it ended up biting us.”

Joliet took the Friday game by a 4-3 score. The Slammers led 3-0 after three innings off Florence starter Jeremy Ovalle (0-4), who finished with five strikeouts and no walks. Darwin Ramos finished the game.

Right fielder Anthony Brocato led the Y’alls going 2 for 4 with a solo home run in the top of the eighth.

Florence came back to win the Saturday game, 13-4 exploding for 14 hits. Third baseman Craig Massey led the way going 3 for 6 with two runs batted in and three runs scored. Second baseman Ethan Stern doubled twice and batted in four with Brocato and shortstop/pitcher Alberti Chavez also recording two hits. First baseman Brennan Price and catcher Luke Harper added doubles.

Florence starting pitcher Griffin Baker (2-0) picked up the win. He struck out two and walked one.

“When the offense comes out and puts three runs on the board in the first, that makes my job a heck of a lot simpler,” Baker said. “It allows me to relax, go after hitters different and try to fill up the zone getting outs, not really nitpicking for strikeouts or anything else.”

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The Y’alls fell 4-3 Sunday to conclude the series.

Left fielder Luis Pinter doubled down the left field line scoring Stern in the top of the second to put the Y’alls up 1-0. Then in the top of the fifth, Chavez grounded out scoring Pintor to put Florence up 2-0.

But the Slammers responded with one run in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to go up 3-2 before center fielder Ray Zuberer doubled to right center, scoring pinch hitter Axel Johnson to tie the game 3-3.

The first two batters reached on walks for Joliet in the bottom of the ninth then moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. Slammers third baseman Paxton Wallace then hit one to left and reached on an error scoring first baseman Brylie Ware to win the game off Florence relief pitcher Cameron Pferrer (2-1).

Florence starting pitcher Jonaiker Villalobos pitched into the sixth striking out six. Ramos, Kent Klyman, Karl Craigie and Pferrer pitched in relief combining to strike out two and walk six.

“We just didn’t have it (Sunday) out of the bullpen,” White said. “Wild pitches and we had an error in there, made a difference in the game.”

Florence plays host to the division’s first place Washington (Pennsylvania) Wild Things at Thomas More Stadium on Tuesday. Game time is 6:32 p.m.

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