JOLIET – Not much has gone right for the Joliet Slammers this season, so how about this for a positive?
The Slammers have a nine-game home stand at Silver Cross Field to conclude the Frontier League season.
The last stand got off on the wrong foot Tuesday night when the Florence Freedom scored a 6-1 victory. The Slammers were bidding to extend their winning streak to four games, which would have matched their longest of the season.
Before the game, manager Jeff Isom talked about how much more pleasant the game is when you get good starting pitching.
“We gave up two earned runs and 13 hits total in three games [at Windy City],” Isom said. “Finally, we pitched some ball. It was good to see the improvement.”
The trend continued early Tuesday as right-hander Andrew Strenge, making his second start and fifth appearance for Joliet (34-54), was strong through four innings. He faced one batter over the minimum in that time and was backed by two double plays on line drives and shortstop Max Casper’s outstanding play in the hole.
In the fifth, however, he walked two batters and both scored on singles as the Freedom (39-48) took a 2-1 lead. The go-ahead hit came off reliever Sam Moore.
The Slammers got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fifth but missed a chance to get more. They had the bases loaded with one out and scored only on a wild pitch. The potential tying run was thrown out at the plate on a close play on a fielder’s choice.
Joliet’s offense struggled against the left-handed slants of the Freedom’s Dave Middendorf. He worked seven innings and allowed six singles in five different innings.
The only inning the Slammers had two hits off him was the fifth.
Right-hander Daniel DeSimone relieved for Florence to open the eighth and allowed a leadoff single to Chris Epps. Matt Weaver sacrificed him to second and Grant DeBruin was walked intentionally even though he was the go-ahead run.
Adrian English then hit into a fielder’s choice and the threat ended when Adam Giacalone struck out.
Freedom’s Jacob Tanis supplied insurance with a two-run home run in the ninth to make it 4-1. Gary Juarbe added a two-run single to put it away.
When it’s not your year, even your records go by the boards. Last Friday, when the Slammers were beginning their weekend sweep at Windy City, the Washington Wild Things’ Jonathan Kountis recorded his 29th save of the season, breaking the Frontier League mark set in 2011 by the Slammers’ Ryan Quigley during their championship season.