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Baseball: Florence Freedom KOs Slammers 6-1

Looking for an upbeat finish to a disappointing season, the Joliet Slammers hope to use a sweep of the Windy City ThunderBolts and a nine-game homestand to fuel the final stretch.

“It’s nine games, an evaluation period to see whose arrow is pointing up instead of staying even or going down,’’ Joliet manager Jeff Isom said. “Give us a reason to bring you back for the 2015 season.’’

The arrow pointed down Tuesday night as the Slammers dropped the series and homestand opener 6-1 to the Florence Freedom at Silver Cross Field.

Florence secured the win with a four-run ninth inning, including a two-run homer by Jacob Tanis.

Joliet right-hander Andrew Strenge had a decent outing in his second start since being signed Aug. 13 as a free agent. He was one out away from getting through five scoreless innings.

Strenge walked two to set up the Freedom’s two-run fifth. After a run-scoring single, he was lifted for Sam Moore, who allowed another RBI hit.

The Slammers pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth to cut Florence’s lead to 2-1. Adam Giacalone led off with a base hit, Seth Granger had a one-out single and JD Dorgan reached on an error to load the bases.

Giacalone scored on a wild pitch. Florence first baseman Sam Eberle then fielded Max Casper’s ground ball and threw home to get Granger for the second out. Chris Epps grounded out to end the inning.

The Slammers (34-54) finished with seven base hits spread out over six innings.

Joliet designated hitter Russell Moldenhauer (ankle) missed his fifth straight game. He’s hitting .299 with nine home runs and a team-best 56 RBI.

The Slammers had a couple of things in their favor against Florence. The Freedom went into the game hitting just .239 as a team, lowest in the Frontier League. Florence was 10-25 on the road before Tuesday, fewest road wins in the league.

Joliet dropped two of three to the Freedom (39-48) from Aug. 15 to 17 in Florence, Kentucky.

“We feel like it’s been a disappointing season, there’s no question,’’ Isom said. “We feel like we’ve got a lot to prove. We can finish up strong and give us optimism for the 2015 season.’’

Rookie right-hander Kody McFarland (4-4, 4.19 ERA) is scheduled to start the middle game of the series for Joliet at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at Silver Cross Field.



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