The River City Rascals kept hold of their slim lead over the rival Gateway Grizzlies in Frontier League West Division race for another day.
On Friday night (Aug. 8) at TR Hughes Ballpark, the host Rascals won the first game of a twi-night doubleheader against the Florence (Ky.) Freedom and then lost the second game for a split. That coupled with winning over the Freedom on Wednesday night (8-3) gave them a 2-1 series win.
Bryce Shafer took the hill for River City in the opening game. Shafer, making his first start in nearly two weeks was sharp as he faced just 12 hitters in the first three innings.
In the fifth, the Freedom broke a scoreless tie with a run on Sam Eberle’s two-out RBI single to make it 1-0.
River City quickly got that one back in the bottom of the fifth as Johnny Morales scored off a run-scoring single from Brian McConkey.
In the sixth, the Rascals loaded the bases against Florence reliever Chris Squires after Freedom starter Fave Middendorf was run off by Curran Redal’s lead-off single.
Redal walked and Morales came home to score with the bases-loaded. Then Saxon Butler lofted a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
John Myers followed with a booming three-run homer to break the game open and River City rolled on to an easy 7-4 victory.
In the nightcap of the doubleheader, Tommy Mendoza got the call to start on the mound and struggled early as Eberle homered in the first to put Florence up early 1-0.
The Rascals responded for Mendoza in the bottom of the first as Butler ripped a two-run double to put the Rascals back on top.
Things went south in a hurry for Mendoza in the second as he was chased from the game after being tagged for four runs on three hits.
Florence starter Michael O’Neal had early struggles as well but managed to pitch into the fifth inning. O’ Neal got tagged
for a fifth inning home run by River City’s Joe Staley, a former teammate.
River City had a few chances to climb back into the game late. A bases-loaded, one-out chance was there for the taking for the Rascals in the bottom of the sixth.
Unfortunately, Steve Carillo and Hector Crespo both struck out against Freedom closer Ed Kohout and the threat evaporated.
Florence claimed the second game with a 9-4 win.
River City (44-28) now enters the weekend with a half game lead over Gateway in the Frontier League West division race.
The Rascals travel to Evansville (Ind.) today to begin a three-game set against the Evansville Otters. Game time for the first game is this evening is 6:35 p.m.