After a rocky start to the season, the Wild Things have started to turn things around, taking two of three games from both Gateway and Southern Illinois in their past two series. Washington’s momentum was halted, however, in the opening contest of their three-game series with the Florence Freedom Friday night at Wild Things Park with a 4-0 loss.
}Washington’s starting pitcher, Troy Terzi, held his own in his Frontier League debut. Signed by the Wild Things from the Atlantic League’s York Revolution earlier in the day, Terzi allowed two earned runs over four innings, giving up six hits, striking out two and walking two.
“My command could have been better,” Terzi said. “I felt like I was getting squeezed a little bit here and there, but I could have made better pitches. Tonight was a battling night for me, for sure.”
It didn’t take Florence long to draw score first. With two outs in the top of the first and Luis Pintor on third base, former Wild Thing shortstop Austin Wobrock singled to put the Freedom ahead, 1-0. It was the start of a good night for Wobrock, who went 2-4 with an RBI and a stolen base.
The score stayed at 1-0 until Florence added on in the fourth. Pintor drove home Brandon Pugh with a double, pushing the lead to two. The Freedom added two more runs in their next at-bat on a single by Pugh, who hit out of the No. 8 spot int he batting order. Pintor and Pugh each had productive evenings for the Freedom, as the former went 2-5 and the later 2-for-4 to join Wobrock with multi-hit nights.
A bright spot for the Wild Things was left-handed reliever Josh Lapiana. Coming into the game with a 14.21 ERA over 6.1 innings, the Chartiers Valley graduate bounced back, throwing 4 1/3 shutout innings, striking out four, walking one and not allowing a hit.
“I thought Lapiana was the story of the game for us,” manager Gregg Langbehn said. “He pitched great. It allowed us not to have to go into the bullpen any further on the first night of the series, which is critical.”
For Florence, Frank Valentino (2-2) threw seven shutout innings for the win. Valentino gave up four hits, walked four and struck out six over 99 pitches on his way to his fourth quality start in five outings. Relievers Karl Craigie and Johnathon Tripp shut out the Wild Things in the eighth and ninth innings.
The middle contest of the three-game set is scheduled for tonight at 7:05. Michael Austin (2-2, 5.20 ERA) will start for Washington, going against Ryan Hill (0-0, 6.48 ERA).
Despite the loss, Washington still has a chance to win its third consecutive series. For Langbehn, the key to rebounding for an underwhelming start to the series is to focus on what’s ahead.
“We’ll come back tomorrow, and lace them up again.”