FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 27, 2017
FLORENCE, Ky— For the second time in three nights, it took eleven innings to decide a victor as the Gateway Grizzlies fell to the Florence Freedom, 3-2, dropping the weekend series as Florence clinched the West Division crown Sunday at UC Health Stadium.
Gateway (29-61) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Brent Gillespie launched a towering solo homer off Florence (57-34) starter Cody Gray that landed in the Freedom bullpen.
With Ja'Vaun West hurling a shutout for Gateway in to the sixth inning, Collins Cuthrell put Florence on the board with a line drive homerun to left that evened the score at one. West would earn a no decision despite tossing seven brilliant innings surrendering just one run and striking out eight with no walks.
Florence broke the tie in the eighth with Michael Elwood replacing West on the bump. Following a leadoff single by Garrett Vail, Ozzy Braff entered the game as a pinch runner. Braff stole second base and advanced to third on a Daniel Fraga single before coming in to score on a Taylor Oldham ground ball up the middle that Brent Sakurai turned in to an impressive double play.
The Freedom entered the ballgame needing one win to clinch the West Division title and were two outs away with closer, Pete Perez on the mound in the ninth. However, Blake Brown knotted the score at two, unloading a mammoth long ball to left. Austin Sweet then held serve in relief in the home half of the ninth and tenth setting up the eleventh and final frame.
Enrique Zamora (3-1) got the ball for Florence in the eleventh with Evan Rogers standing at second per the International Tie Breaker Rule. Zamora recorded a pair of outs but loaded the bases after intentionally walking Blake Brown and walking Kyle Richards. However, Zamora escapeed the jam inducing Joel McKeithan into a fly out to right. One day after leaving eight ment on base, the Grizzlies would strand fourteen more baserunners on Sunday.
Taylor Oldham started the bottom of the frame at second for the Freedom with Tanner Cable (4-4) on in relief for the Grizzlies. Cable walked Cuthrell setting up a first and second situation for Andre Mercurio. Mercurio then laid down a bunt that rolled right back to Cable who attempted to record the force out at third base but Joel McKeithan dropped the ball allowing Oldham to plate the winning run.
Gateway manager Phil Warren and left fielder Cody Livesay were ejected in the top of the seventh for arguing balls and strikes after Livesay was rung up on an inside pitch.
With the win, Florence secures the top seed in the West ahead of the 2017 Frontier League postseason.
Following an off-day Monday, the Grizzlies will head to Marion, Illinois on Tuesday for a three game series with the Southern Illinois Miners. Right-hander Vince Molesky will get the ball for the Grizzlies opposite southpaw Chris Washington of the Miners with first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. at Rent One Park.