A back-and-forth contest between Florence and River City tilted the Rascals' way Saturday night, as the Rascals won 10-9.
For the seventh time in eight games, the Freedom scored first against Rascal starter Zach Sterner. Mark Samuelson started his big night with a solo home run to left field to stake the Freedom to a 1-0 lead, but little did anyone know that after that, 18 more runs would follow.
The Rascals answered in the second inning. Chad Maddox lifted a two-run home run to left field, the second straight game the Rascals have hit a two-run home run in the third inning, to give River City a one-run lead.
Stephen Holdren pushed the Rascals to a three-run lead in the fifth on an RBI single to right field that scored Chris McClendon. The back-and-forth contest started during the bottom half of the fifth, as the Freedom tied the game on Mark Samuelson's second solo home run of the night off of Sterner and Jonathan Cisneros' RBI single.
The Rascals had a huge sixth inning to take a five-run lead and it was highlighted by a wacky play. After Chris Ingoglia, who lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowed two runners to reach via a base hit and walk. He was relieved by Adam Painter, who came into the game allowing only one run in seven innings. Painter hit Brian Harris with his first pitch of the game to load the bases. A ground ball by Chris McClendon was bobbled by Samuelson at first for an error and the Rascals took a 4-3 lead. With the bases still loaded, Chad Maddox fouled out for the second out of the inning and confusion followed.
With Joash Brodin at-bat, the Freedom thought he swung and missed for strike three, but catcher's interference was called on Cisneros. Manager Fran Riordan came on to argue the call, but it was to no avail as the call stood and the Rascals took a 5-3 lead. After what the Freedom thought was a strikeout to end the inning, Holdren ripped a bases-clearing three-run double to cap the Freedom frustration.
Down 8-3, the Freedom showed the same resiliency they showed last night in coming back in the 10th inning to win the game. But in the bottom of the sixth, the Freedom had their own misunderstanding in the frame. Florence loaded the bases in their half of the sixth and that brought up Mark Samuelson. On a 3-2 pitch, Samuelson thought he hit the ball in play but what followed was hectic. Coming around to score were all three runners on base after the ball got away from the catcher. Samuelson ended up at second, but after a long talk between the umpires, the play was reversed and called a foul ball. Samuelson and Riordan argued with the umpires, but again, the call stood.
It didn't come back to hurt the Freedom as Samuelson knocked an RBI single to right field. All of the runners, including Samuelson, came around to score in the inning. Juan Valdes scored as well on a Junior Arrojo opposite-field hit to tie the game up at eight.
The Rascals took the lead in the seventh and did something they hadn't all night: hang onto it. After a leadoff walk to Bobby Burk by Freedom reliever Alex Cann, Burk stole second. Chris McClendon followed with a two-out RBI single to give the Rascals a 9-8 lead. Brodin added a needed insurance run in the eighth on a home run to right field off of Chad Robinson.
The Freedom attempted their second straight come-from-behind win of the season in the ninth and came so close. Junior Arrojo walked to lead off the inning but was thrown out at third after a Cole Miles single to right field. Miles stole second and scored on a bloop single by Jimmy Baker. With two outs, Stephen Shults, the hero last night, hit a flare to shallow right field, but he was robbed by an over-the-shoulder grab by the River City second baseman to end the game.