Florence leaves Schaumburg with another series win

G. Michael Graham
G. Michael Graham
Mike Graham covers sports for LINK nky

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The Florence Y’alls came home with a third straight series win, taking two of three against the Schaumburg Boomers.

Florence (14-10) moved within a half-game of the Boomers (14-9) for third place in the Frontier League West Division standings. The Y’alls are one game behind the Evansville Otters (15-9) for second place and four and a half games behind division leader Gateway Grizzlies (18-5). The top three teams in the East and West division make the playoffs.

“As long as we’re rolling and doing our thing, we feel comfortable about it,” said Chad Rhoades, Florence Manager. “I know (11-year Schaumburg Manager) Jamie Bennett well. We talked before the series. We were both excited to see how our teams would match up because we both knew we were going to play a different style of baseball than it is playing the East Division. Baseball is more clean. You have to play sharp defense, throw strikes then you have to move runner over. That’s what you saw all series.”

Florence opened the series with a 5-1 win Tuesday. The Y’alls led 1-0 after two then extended it to 3-0 in the top of the fifth when first baseman Harrison DiNicola singled in center fielder Cole Brannen and infielder Andres Rios. Designated hitter Brennan Price then blasted a two-run home run in the top of the seventh for his fifth of the year to cap the Florence scoring.

Florence outhit Schaumburg, 11-6. Price, DiNicola and third baseman Brian Fuentes had two hits each. Rios and Ray Zuberer added doubles.

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Jake McMahill (1-1) pitched six innings, striking out seven and walking four. Carter Poiry pitched the seventh and eighth, striking out one and allowing one unearned run. Kent Klyman then closed things out in the bottom of the ninth, striking out three straight after the first two batters singled.

Florence earned the series win with a 7-6 win Wednesday. The Y’alls built a 5-1 lead entering the bottom of the seventh. But Schaumburg came back scoring three in the bottom of the seventh and two in the bottom of the eighth to go up 6-5.

The Y’alls made some big plays in the ninth to hold on for the win. Shortstop Jeremiah Burks led off the top of the ninth with a single off Schaumburg relief pitcher Kristian Scott and left fielder Marcos Castillo laid down a bunt single before center fielder Cole Brannen laid down a sacrifice bunt to move them up. Burks then scored on a wild pitch and second baseman Craig Massey bounced one over a drawn-in infield scoring Castillo for the game-winner.

Florence had to escape a tough situation in the bottom of the ninth to earn the win. Reliever Brandon Mason (2-0) coaxed Schaumburg center fielder Brett Milazzo into flying out to Castillo, but walked the next three Boomers to load the bases.

The Y’alls brought in Sean Hughes and he earned his first save of the season. Hughes struck out pinch-hitter Blake Berry before shortstop Alec Craig tried to lay down a surprise bunt on an 0-1 count down toward third base. But Fuentes raced toward the ball, grabbed it with his bare right hand and fired a strike to first baseman Harrison DiNicola to end the game.

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“We preach the mentality of come in throw strikes, attacking hitters no matter what,” Hughes said. “At that point in the game, a hit or something, to tie or win the game. I felt like (catcher) Zade (Richardson) and I had a great plan. We executed it how we wanted to. (The bunt) surprised me a bit. But I know (Fuentes) has a great glove even though he didn’t use one. He came up firing and got (Craig) by a step or so. You could see on video all three of us were super stoked. It was awesome.”

Florence outhit Schaumburg, 14-10 and scored two unearned runs off the lone Boomer error while yielding one on two errors. Price went 4-for-5 with his sixth homerun of the year to go with two RBI and one run scored. Massey went 3-for-4 with two RBI and scored once with Castillo going 2-for-3 with a double and scored three runs. Richardson went 2- for-4 scoring once.

Richardson played a big role stopping a number of balls in the dirt to keep runners from moving up. The Boomers had two wild pitches and the Y’alls had none in the game.

“We have a plan where we’re setting pitches up. I’m mentally prepared to get some of these guys and keep balls in front of me,” Richardson said. “I think most importantly, the thing to look at is keeping the guys on base accountable. You have to make sure they’re not going. I think even doing back picks puts it in their heads that at any point, we can still get them. If you keep them uncomfortable on base, that’s the biggest thing.”

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Schaumburg prevented the sweep no-hitting the Y’alls on Thursday, 2-0. Boomers starter Jackson Hickert (2-1) pitched seven innings, striking out three with relievers Antonio Frias and Dylan Stutsman pitching one inning each.

The Y’alls did put runners at second and third with two out in the ninth, but Stutsman struck out Richardson to end the game.

Florence drew nine walks and had one hit batter. But the Y’alls could not capitalize on them.

“It didn’t feel like we got no-hit. We had runners on base every inning except the third,” Rhoades said. “We had a lot of barrels, but (they) just didn’t go our way. But we’re going home feeling good about the series knowing who we went up against. We proved that’s we’re right there as far as the ability to play the right way and beat those teams.”

Nathan Florence (3-1) pitched five innings striking out five and walking three. Jestin Jones pitched two innings striking out two and Tommy Siemer pitched one.

Florence takes plays host to the Empire State Greys (6-17) in a three-game series starting Friday at 7:03 p.m.

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