O’FALLON, Mo. — No Silver, no problem. The River City Rascals blew out the Florence Freedom on Tuesday night 18-5, while racking up 14 hits and 11 walks. In their first game without the best hitter in the Frontier League through 20 games, Josh Silver, who was signed by the Chicago Cubs on Monday, the Rascals (13-8) scored the most runs of any team in the league this season. Possibly even more impressively, they did so while scoring in only four innings. The Freedom (7-14) used six pitchers, but all 18 earned runs were charged to only three.
All nine River City batters reached base at least once, seven scored a run, and eight had an RBI. Somewhat surprisingly, only one of the 14 hits went for extra bases — a double by Dominque Taylor that didn’t score a run. In his Rascals debut, Alexi Colon started in center field and was hitless at the plate. However, he walked four times, scored four times, and stole a base. Josh Ludy batted in the spot previously occupied by Silver and reached base five of the six times he came to the plate, drove in two runs and scored twice himself out of the three-hole. The only other Rascal with three hits was Jason Merjano, who moved down in the lineup after spending last week in the leadoff spot and promptly led the team in RBIs with three.
The Rascals opened the scoring in the first with a two-out, two-RBI single by Merjano after they loaded the bases without a hit. The Rascals loaded the bases again in the second. Johnny Morales forced home a run with an RBI-walk. The next batter up, Ludy, plated two with a single. Morales scored off a sac fly by third baseman Robby Enslen, who took over Silver’s position in the field, to make the score 6-0 after two innings. In the third, River City blew the game wide open. The Rascals sent 12 to the plate in the inning that saw four hits, four walks, one hit by pitch, one batter reach on an error, and sevens runs cross the plate to make it 13-0 after three. River City tacked on five more runs in the sixth to set the record with four RBI singles and a run-scoring fielder’s choice all with the bases loaded.
Not that it mattered with the unprecedented run support, but the Rascals gave up five runs for the first time since May 29. Zeb Sneed pitched well in his encore performance to his 11-strikeout, two-hit shutout his last time out. Sneed threw 6.2 innings and gave up three earned runs while striking out six. Sneed has pitched into the seventh inning in all four of his starts this season and leads the team in innings despite not leading in starts. Will Schierholz gave up two meaningless runs in the eighth off a home run by Isaac Wenrich after finishing the seventh for Sneed and stranding two inherited runners. Joe Pavlovich finished the game with a perfect ninth inning in his first appearance since May 26.
If the 11 walks weren’t enough of an indication the Florence Freedom’s pitching staff couldn’t find the zone Tuesday night, they also hit three batters. Brandon Bargas got the start for the Freedom and gave up six runs despite only allowing three hits because he walked five batters. Bargas was pulled after the second inning in favor of TJ Bozeman. It was a nightmare of an outing for Bozeman. Eight Rascals came to the plate, and eight Rascals reached base. Five runs scored before Bozeman was pulled and two more runs he was responsible for scored after he left. Brandon Maddern held River City off the board for two innings, but in the sixth he gave up three, loaded the bases and got no outs before he was pulled. Two of his runners scored before Pete Levitt could get them to the seventh. Levitt, Tony Vocca, and Matt Pobereyko gave up only two hits and no runs between them in their three innings of work.
Wednesday’s starters are Jason Ziegler (1-0, 5.78 ERA) and Patrick McGrath (1-1, 5.08 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at CarShield Field.
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