O'FALLON, MO--On the heels of their worst loss of the season, the River City Rascals turned in a splendid performance on Friday night against the Florence Freedom, winning 9-0 in the series opener at CarShield Field. Hector Hernandez (6-0) was masterful in a complete game shutout, allowing just five hits on the night and striking out seven. He now leads the Frontier League in both wins (6) and ERA (1.60). The Rascals matched a season high with 16 hits, including three each from Clint Freeman, Paul Kronenfeld and Braxton Martinez, with Martinez finishing the night with five total RBIs.
The Rascals jumped out to an early lead on a two-run single from Martinez in the first, and he provided another two-run single in the third. Freeman added an RBI double in the third to make it 5-0 Rascals. The Rascals then got three in the fourth on a leadoff solo home run from Zach Lavy and a two-run blast later in the frame from Kronenfeld. Martinez made it 9-0 with his solo homer in the seventh.
JD Hearn and Kevin Suarez each had two hits for the Rascals, and Ross Haffey recorded his first professional hit in his debut, having just signed with the team on Friday.
Freedom starting pitcher Zach Kirby (0-3) allowed nine earned runs in 6.1 innings, allowing 14 hits and throwing 120 pitches.
The Rascals (20-16) and Freedom (18-19) play the middle game of the series tomorrow night, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 pm CT. Josh Kimborowicz will start for the Rascals, and will be opposed by the Freedom's Steve Hagen.