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Baseball: Florence Freedom holds off Slammers 9-7

Kody McFarland, Joliet’s 6-foot-7 rookie right-hander, put together his best outing of the season Friday against Windy City.

His six hitless innings oin a 7-1 road win earned praise from Slammers manager Jeff Isom for the progress McFarland made.

“His previous starts, he only threw three or four off-speed pitches for strikes,’’ Isom said. “We kept pushing him, making him understand that even though your fastball is in the low 90s (mph), it’s hittable if they’re sitting on the one pitch only.

“He bought into that and he worked on off-speed pitches.’’

McFarland was back on the mound Wednesday night, but the results were far from the same.

The Florence Freedom batted around in the fourth inning and knocked the Idaho native out of the game with a five-run surge that led to a 9-7 win over Joliet at Silver Cross Field.

The Slammers (34-55) fell behind 8-0 before they rallied with seven runs in the eighth inning.

Joliet was 7-5 with McFarland on the mound going into Wednesday’s game, the only winning record among the starting pitchers.

In the decisive fourth inning, McFarland allowed three straight one-out singles and a walk before leadoff hitter Cole Miles tripled to give Florence a 5-0 lead. Adrian English’s error at second base allowed Miles to score for a 6-0 cushion.

Florence (40-48) added runs in the sixth and eighth innings to go ahead 8-0.

Grant DeBruin (2-for-3) and Adam Giacalone delivered two-run singles in the bottom of the eighth to make it 8-4.

Chris Epps came through with a two-run double before Josh Scheffert’s single scored Epps to get Joliet within a run at 8-7.

The series finale against Florence is 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Silver Cross Field. The Slammers play the Frontier Greys, the worst team in the Frontier League, in a weekend series that starts Friday.

“We want to come out feeling good about the end of the season,’’ Isom said. “We talk to them daily about this. They feel the same way. It was kind of refreshing getting the sweep against Windy City.’’

Joliet needs a win Thursday or it will be Florence that gets the sweep.



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