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Freedom Open Season with Win Over Joliet

The Florence Freedom topped the Joliet Slammers by a score of 3-1 in front of big crowd in Florence, Kentucky on opening night at UC Health Stadium. The win was manager Dennis Pelfrey’s first with the Freedom.

Freedom starting pitcher Coleman Stephens picked up the win, as he gave up just one run on five hits with one walk in seven innings of work.

The Joliet Slammers struck first in the top of the first inning, scoring a run on back-to-back one-out ground rule doubles. The Freedom answered in the latter half of the inning, however, on a two-RBI triple by Cody Bishop.

After his rocky first inning, Florence starter Coleman Stephens settled in nicely on the mound. Stephens would not surrender another hit until the sixth inning, retiring 12 of 13 batters during that stretch. Stephens utilized his strong sinker throughout the contest, getting 12 groundouts out of the 21 total outs he recorded.

“[Stephens] is a guy that we know will give us a great chance to win every time he pitches” said manager Dennis Pelfrey. “He probably had a little first-inning jitters, but to settle in a give us seven strong innings on opening night is great. That’s what we’ve come to expect from Cole.”

The Freedom tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on a monster home run by first baseman Sam Eberle before closer Ed Kohout came in to close the door on the Slammers’ ninth inning.  Kohout worked around two walks to record a scoreless ninth and pick up the opening night save.

Eberle led the Freedom offense with a double, home run, and two runs scored.

The Freedom take on the Joliet Slammers again tomorrow night, when Johnny Bench and George Foster are slated to serve as guest coaches at UC Health Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.

Story and photo by Alex Valentine, RCN contributor