Y’alls earn first sweep of season at Washington

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The Florence Y’alls (7-5) ventured to Pennsylvania and earned their first sweep of the season taking down the two-time defending Frontier League West Division champion Washington Wild Things (6-6).

“We played really well,” said Chad Rhoades, Florence Manager. “We made some mistakes (Thursday). But we didn’t let that affect us. We came back. It was a nice, fun game.”

Florence moved into a tie for third place in the standings with the Lake Erie Crushers. The Evansville Otters (9-3) and Gateway Grizzlies (8-4) hold the top two spots.

Florence opened the series crushing the Wild Things, 12-1 batting an astounding .400 (16 for 40) overall. Right fielder Sam Plash went 3-for-5 with one run batted in and scored three times smacking his first pro home run and doubling.

The Y’alls saw six players record multi-hit games. Center fielder Cole Brannen went 3-for-3 with two walks and scored twice. Designated hitter Brennan Price went 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and scored once. Shortstop Jeremiah Burks went 2-for-4 with a double and scored once.

The top of the lineup set the tone all evening. Left fielder Marcos Castillo went 2-for-6 with one RBI and scored twice. First baseman Craig Massey went 2-for-5 with three RBI and scored twice.

Edgar Martinez (1-0) pitched into the sixth inning to record the win for the Y’alls striking out four, walking five and allowing four hits and one earned run. Michael Kirian and Brandon Mason combined to shut out the Wild Things out of the bullpen striking out three, walking none and allowing one hit.

The Y’alls scored four runs in the top of the third and fourth to build an 8-0 lead. After Washington scored one in the bottom of the fourth, Florence added two in the fifth and one in each of the seventh and eighth innings.

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Florence came back Wednesday to win 4-2 clinching their first series win over the Wild Things since August, 2021 scoring all four runs in the top of the seventh to erase a 1-0 deficit. The Y’alls made one error in the game but did not yield any unearned runs off it.

“It’s not making the game emotional,” Rhoades said of winning close games. “It’s just playing the game. It’s do what you can for that guy behind you. It’s working those at-bats. It’s grinding out the starters. It’s waiting for your pitch and not trying to force it. We’re kind of getting to that point where guys are actually relaxing in their ABs, not forcing the action and making those pitchers throw to us.”

Both teams had eights. But the Y’alls had five extra-base hits compared to two for the Wild Things. Brannen led the way going 3-for-4 with a double, one RBI and one run scored. Castillo continued his hot hitting going 2-for-5 with a triple and RBI. Burks and designated hitter Sam Plash had triples with Price doubling.

Florence starter Mike Kickham had his longest start this year going four innings striking out two, walking two and allowing five hits and one earned run. Carter Poiry took over in the fifth and pitched into the seventh striking out two, walking three and allowing no runs or hits. Kent Klyman then pitched one inning striking out one, walking one and allowing two hits including a solo home run for Florence before Cameron Pferrer finished it striking out two and allowing one hit for his second save this year.

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Florence gutted out a 9-8 win in the final game Thursday. Massey hit a two-run double in the top of the eighth scoring Brannen and second baseman Harrison DiNicola for the final score.

Florence built a 5-1 lead in the top of the second before the Wild Things scored four in the bottom of the third to tie the game 5-5. Washington took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the seventh before Massey’s heroics.

Both teams committed two errors. Florence scored one unearned run to none for Washington, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

The Y’alls batted .314 (11 for 35) overall. Massey and right fielder Ray Zuberer both went 2 for 5. Massey had two doubles batting in two and scoring once with Zuberer homering driving in four and scoring twice. Brannen went 2 for 3 with a home run, RBI and scored three times. Burks went 2 for 4 with a double.

“It was awesome. Glory to God,” Brannen said. “We’re all clicking together as a team right now. The guys on defense trust our pitchers on the mound. I know our pitchers trust us at the plate. When you got that going on, special things happen. There’s never a doubt.”

Jake McMahill started for Florence and pitched into the fifth striking out one, walking four and allowing seven hits. Joe Dougherty (2-0) took over and pitched through the seventh striking out one, walking one and allowed three hits and two earned runs.

Sean Hughes pitched out of a tough situation in the eighth to preserve the Florence lead striking out one and allowing two hits. With one out, designated hitter Andrew Czech and right fielder and former Y’all Anthony Brocato singled before third baseman Ian Walters grounded moving them up one base. But Hughes got left fielder Robert Chayka to fly out to Zuberer to end the inning.

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Mason then came on in the ninth to nail down his first save this year striking out one. Center fielder Harrison Ray drew a walk to open the inning. But Florence catcher Cooper Edwards threw him out trying to steal second. Mason then struck out catcher J.C. Santini and got shortstop Nick Gotta to ground out to Burks to complete the sweep.

“I think we’re coming together as a team. We came up clutch (Thursday) with the caught stealing,” Mason said. “We calmed down after that and just played my game just attacking them. If they’re going to beat me, they’re going to beat me with my best stuff in the zone. It’s a total team effort. I’d like to give credit to Sean Hughes for locking it down. I tried to match the energy of all the bullpen arms. We’ve been playing pretty well.”

Florence travels to the Chicago area to face the Windy City ThunderBolts (5-7) to open a three-game series Friday at 7:35 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

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