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Freedom Stunned in 1-Game Playoff, but Florence Lands 2016 All-Star Game

The Florence Freedom suffered a stunning 6-5 defeat at the hands of the River City Rascals in their one-game play-off on Tuesday. With the loss the Freedom’s season comes to an end.

Florence was 40-2 when leading after seven innings in 2015. They led after seven innings and scored a run in the eighth as well to take a 5-2 lead. But River City scored four unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth off Ethan Gibbons to take the lead for good.

Austin Newell’s two-run homer in the first gave Florence an early 2-0 edge. River City responded with a Taylor Ard RBI double in the first and a Casey Rodrigue sacrifice fly in the second.

The game remained tied at two until the fourth when Daniel Fraga singled home two runs to make it 4-2 in favor of the Freedom.

Jeremy Gooding was brilliant for the Freedom, holding the league’s top offense to four hits and two runs (one earned) over seven innings. He walked two and struck out four.

An Isaac Wenrich solo homer in the eighth made it 5-2 in favor of Florence.

Gibbons entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and retired the first two batters he faced. But he walked two straight batters after that. He got Jackson Slaid to hit a routine ground-ball but Zac Mitchell booted it at shortstop for the error to load the bases with two outs. Gibbons walked in a run to make the score 5-3. Then Josh Silver hit a deep fly to center that Josh Henderson misjudged. It went over his head and all the way to the wall, clearing the bases and giving the Rascals a 6-5 lead.

Florence got a lead-off walk from Mitchell in the ninth and a single from Newell moved him to third with nobody out. But Sam Eberle and pinch hitter Ozzy Gonzalez struck out. Then Wenrich flew out to end the game and the Freedom’s season.

Florence out-hit River City 14-5 in the loss but left 10 men on base. River City will faced the Southern Illinois Miners in a best-of-three series beginning Thursday in O’Fallon. 

Florence Lands "Y'all Star Game" in 2016

Though the Freedom are dealing with a stinging defeat, the team scored a pretty significant victory on Tuesday, too. Florence will host the 2016 Frontier League All-Star Game, locally dubbed as the Y'all Star Game, an homage to the Florence Y'all water tower.

The game will take place on July 13, 2016 with festivities surrounding the game beginning on July 11.

This announcement comes on the heels of the Freedom winning the league’s 2015 “Organization of the Year” award and making the Frontier League’s 2015 playoffs.

-Staff report