John Havrid was not credited with a win but the lefty pitcher did enough to fill out the deposit slip.

Havrid pitched into the fifth inning and catcher Lucas Herbert hit a three-run homer, lifting the Wild Things to a 4-2 victory over Florence in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday night.

Florence earned a doubleheader split by winning the second game, 9-3, and winning the three-game series.

Before Washington’s early start could get any worse, the scuffling Wild Things (3-10) gave the baseball to Havrid, a former Ohio State standout who played the last two years with the Traverse City Beach Bums. That franchise folded in the offseason and Havrid signed as a free agent with Washington.

He has been a good pickup. Havrid’s first outing of the season at River City resulted in the only quality start by a Washington pitcher this year. He might have had a second Thursday but left after only 4 2/3 innings with a sore lat muscle and a 4-1 lead.

“We definitely needed that win,” Havrid said. “I went out there thinking I had to have a good start. My side is a little sore. I’ve never had a lat problem before but I think I’ll be fine.”

Havrid gave up six hits and two walks but only two runs (one earned) to help Washington stop a five-game losing streak and get its first win at Wild Things Park since last year’s playoffs. A native of Mesa, Ariz., Havrid showed a good slider and changeup.

“I was keeping their hitters off balance,” Havrid said. “My best pitch is the changeup and my slider was on.”

Washington never trailed in the game, taking a 1-0 lead in the first after a double by Wander Franco and Hector Roa’s two-out single.

Florence tied the score in the fourth with an unearned run but Washington struck for three in its half of the inning. With Hector Roa at second base and J.J. Fernandez at first, Herbert hit a pitch from Florence starter Tyler Gibson (2-1) to left field for a three-run homer and a 4-1 lead. It was the first Frontier League homer for Herbert, a former second round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves.

Washington turned the game over to reliever James Meeker (2-1) in the fifth and he gave up a sacrifice fly to Connor Crane but stranded two Freedom baserunners.

Zach Strecker pitched the seventh inning for his third save.

“I see a lot of talented guys on this team,” Havrid said. “It’s early. We have a few games that we lost by one run. I think we’re going to get going. This is the most talented team I’ve played with.”

Florence broke open the second game by scoring five runs in the fifth inning to forge a 9-1 lead. Two of Washington's runs came on a home run by Saige Jenco. 

Extra bases

Prior to the game, Washington made several roster moves. Second baseman Javier Betancourt and pitcher Tyler Barss each were released and pitcher Roberto Delgado was activated off the 14-day disabled list. Betancourt was a high-profile acquisition in the offseason. While playing in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system he was once traded to Milwaukee for six-time all-star closer Francisco Rodriguez. Betancourt, however, struggled at the plate with the Wild Things and was hitting only .189 in 10 games. Barss, who played for Traverse City last year, had a 6.48 ERA in relief outings for Washington. The Wild Things played the doubleheader with 23 active players, one under the league limit. … One day after it issued 13 walks in a 17-3 loss to Florence, four Washington pitchers combined to walk 10 batters in the second game Thursday. The Wild Things have walked 42 batters in the first six games in the nine-game homestand. ... Washington begins a three-game weekend series at tonight against the Gateway Grizzlies.

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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