The season may be close to the end, but the evaluation process is far from over.
The Florence Y’alls gave the staff plenty of good evaluations, especially in the middle game of a three-game series with the Lake Erie Crushers. In the end, the Y’alls did not earn enough to win the series. It’s the Y’alls fifth straight series loss as they sit with a 35-52 record with nine games to play.
“They are all very aware that we’re building toward something,” said Chad Rhoades, Florence Manager. “These last two weeks when we’ve had meetings it’s ‘Hey. I hope you guys understand that from the beginning, most of you guys weren’t here and there’s a reason for that.’ We’re building toward the future so these last two weeks, these are not to throw away at-bats. You are being observed on whether or not you’re capable of making this team next year.”
Florence ended a six-game losing streak with one of its better outings of the year in a 12-4 win Wednesday. The Y’alls fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first. But after tying it at two in the bottom of the second, the Y’alls scored three in the next two innings and never looked back. Catcher Nick Wimmers had the big hit in the bottom of the third with a two-run triple to right scoring shortstop Ed Johnson and first baseman Craig Massey.
“It’s funny. I just saw my mom after the game. Every time I hit a triple, my mom starts thinking about the cycle,” Wimmers said. “It’s hilarious. Really, I was watching it the whole way, happy that it found the ground. I was giving it my all checking (Hitting) Coach Mike (Morris) at third and doing my best.”
Florence outhit Lake Erie, 14-2. Johnson and third baseman Brian Fuentes had three hits each. Fuentes had a double, triple, one run batted in and scored three runs. Johnson had two doubles and scored two runs. Center fielder Ray Zuberer went 2-for-3 with a home run, double, six RBI and scored one run. Wimmers also had two hits with the two RBI and designated hitter Brennan Price hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth.
“That’s what we talk about in the dugout, too,” Rhoades said. “We talked about that before the game. You have to get guys on base. That way, you put him in stress. You see a different pitcher when you put (Lake Erie starting pitcher and former Y’all Jonaiker Villalobos) in stress. It’s a nice concoction for big innings like what happened.”
The lead gave Florence starter Bobby Brabrand (4-10) some wiggle room. He pitched out of jam in the top of the fifth allowing just two runs after walking the bases loaded. Brabrand struck out four and walked three in six innings. Aaron Rund pitched two innings and Nick Ernst finished it in the ninth, striking out two each.
“It’s nice having a defense like that. It gives you a lot of confidence just to fill up the zone, knowing those guys are going to make plays behind you,” Brabrand said. “That’s all I really try to do. Wimmers did a phenomenal job behind the plate, called a great game. I have a lot of confidence with him behind the plate. It was a really good team win.”
Lake Erie opened the series with a 5-1 win Tuesday, scoring two unearned runs off two Florence errors. The Crushers scored four in the fourth and another in the fifth to go up 5-0. But the Y’alls avoided the shutout in the bottom of the eighth when Fuentes singled in Johnson.
Lake Erie outhit Florence, 7-3. No one had more than one hit for the Y’alls. But Johnson and Massey had doubles.
Ryan Watson (2-3) pitched six innings taking the loss for the Y’alls, striking out two and walking one. Carter Poiry pitched two scorless innings, striking out three and Ross Thompson pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out two.
Lake Erie turned the tables Thursday, winning the series with a 14-10 victory. Lake Erie scored seven runs in the top of the sixth to go up 12-5, but the Y’alls made things interesting scoring five times in the bottom of the ninth.
Lake Erie outhit Florence, 11-9. Johnson led the way going 3-for-5 with a double and run scored. Second baseman Tristin Garcia went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and run scored. Wimmers added a double and three RBI and Price hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first for the game’s first run on his way to two RBI.
Edgar Martinez (7-9) pitched into the sixth inning, striking out eight and walking four. Christian Cosby took over in the sixth and pitched the next two innings, striking out four and walking none. Brian McKenna pitched the ninth striking out two and walking one.
Florence travels to Evansville (47-39) for a three-game series starting Friday at 7:35 p.m.