The River City Rascals (48-45) were overpowered by the Florence Freedom (58-35) and dropped the series finale, 12-6, Wednesday night at CarShield Field.
In the loss, the Rascals got a stellar night out of slugger Paul Kronenfeld who launched a pair of two-run home runs.
Kronenfeld’s first long ball came in the bottom of the second inning against Jordan Kraus and the Rascals doubled their lead one inning later by sending seven batters to the plate.
Clint Freeman began the offensive stanza with a leadoff single and then with one out, Kraus hit Morales and allowed a single off the bat of Josh Ludy to load the bases.
Mike Jurgella drove in the first run via a sacrifice fly and Jason Merjano followed with a RBI double to extend the Rascals lead to 4-0.
However, that would be the final lead the Rascals held as the Florence Freedom retaliated with a five spot in the top of the fourth inning to take a 5-4 lead.
The Freedom’s first run came from a RBI groundout and the next four came on a pair of two-run home runs from Garrett Vail and Ozzy Braff.
Rascals southpaw Dan Ludwig surrendered a third two-run round tripper one inning later and was replaced by Reese Gregory immediately after with a 7-4 deficit.
Ludwig took the loss, his fourth of the year and allowed seven runs, earned, on eight hits and struck out three.
Gregory was solid out of the bullpen and tossed three scoreless innings with three strikeouts to keep the deficit at three.
The Rascals made one final offensive surge with Kronenfeld’s second long ball of the night to bring the team within 7-6 but four bullpen arms combined to allowed five runs, two earned, in the final two innings to break the game open again.
The three unearned runs occurred in the top of the eighth on three separate errors and then the ninth inning runs came after three straight hits, including RBI doubles from Collins Cuthrell and Andre Mercurio.
Despite the loss, the Rascals tallied ten hits and besides Kronenfeld’s three, Ludy and Jurgella each notched a pair putting them at 94 and 93 hits on the year respectively.
River City sits two games back from the playoffs with three remaining and they look to stay alive as they take on the Southern Illinois Miners Friday night at CarShield Field.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.