Florence sweeps past Windy City in standings

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

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The Florence Y’alls (31-41) needed a sweep of the visiting Windy City ThunderBolts (30-41) to surpass them in the Frontier League West standings and did just that over the weekend.

Florence moved into sixth place with its season-high five-game winning streak. This marked the first home sweep of the season for the Y’alls and second overall.

“I thought we were clicking on all cylinders as far as everybody knowing their role and everyone playing their role, didn’t try to do too much,” said Florence manager Chad Rhoades. “Like I told them earlier, if you just keep the pressure on them, the pipes are going to burst. We saw that this series. The defense was really good this whole series.”

The Y’alls sit 9.5 games behind Evansville for the third and final playoff spot in the division with 24 games to go. Host Evansville swept second-place Schaumburg over the weekend.

Florence opened the series Friday with a 9-1 win and pounded out 11 hits. First baseman Zade Richardson led the way, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and one run scored.
Designated hitter Brennan Price, third baseman Brian Fuentes and right fielder Harrison DiNicola had two hits each. Fuentes had a double and two RBI with Price doubling and scoring three runs. Shortstop Ed Johnson had a double and drove in three with left fielder Lane Hoover scoring twice.

Ryan Watson (1-2) pitched seven strong innings to pick up the win for Florence, striking out two and walking two. Nick Ernst and Brian McKenna each pitched one inning, striking out two each.

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“We got a couple good starts out of the young kids,” Rhoades said. “I think they’re grasping pro ball, understanding the concepts we’re talking about, controlling the count, not throwing certain pitches in certain counts to put them behind the eight-ball. They understand where to attack teams at certain times of the game. They did really set the tone.”

Florence won the Saturday game, 6-1 behind Bobby Brabrand’s complete game. Brabrand (3-8) struck out seven and allowed five hits with an earned run.

First baseman Craig Massey returned to the line-up going 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Hoover and second baseman Jeremiah Burks added two hits each.

“We’re trying to be the best team we can be and not worry about anyone else,” Massey said. “If we handle our business each day, hopefully it works out for us in the end. We’re feeling good right now. We hope to keep going. We’ve been stringing (hits) together lately.”

Florence shut out Windy City 11-0 to complete the sweep on Sunday.

Carter Poiry pitched three innings, striking out three and walking none before new Y’all Ross Thompson (1-0) took over. Thompson, who just completed his career at NCAA Division III Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, pitched five innings, striking out four and walking two to earn the win. Alex Theis pitched a scoreless ninth to finish the game.

“I’m used to starting so I had the pitch count built up and I was prepared to do that physically,” Thompson said. “(Rhoades) brought me in and said we’re going to need some innings. I got ready for it like any other game even though it’s not like any other game – first professional game. It was a great opportunity to throw and I appreciate (Rhoades) doing what he could to get me down here.”

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Massey again led the Y’alls at the plate going 3-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and scored three runs. Johnson, catcher Nick Wimmers and Hoover had two hits each. Richardson, Wimmers, Burks and left fielder Hank Ziesler had one double each.

Florence plays a three-game series at the division-leading Gateway Grizzlies starting Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.

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