The Normal CornBelters allowed six first-inning runs Monday night in a 7-2 loss to the Florence Freedom. The CornBelters lost two out of three games in the series, the first time the team has lost a series since June 2 to Lake Erie.
The Freedom put an early beating on CornBelter starter Ryan Sheldon, plating half a dozen in the 1st. Drew Rundle drove in the first run doubling home Cole Miles and giving Florence the first lead of the game 1-0. Jonathon Cisneros then singled to bring home Juan Valdes and a batter later Jimmy Butler flied out to right, deep enough to sacrifice home Rundle putting the Freedom up 3-0. Stephen Shults took the second pitch he saw over the left field wall, a blast that hit off the top of the fence stationed on the left field hill, almost clearing the Corn Crib. That put Florence out front 5-0, as Justin Holloway followed with a solo homer giving the Freedom a 6-0 lead.
Sheldon was pulled after the first inning, as Michael Click went on to pitch three perfect innings in relief. Florence scored again in the 5th against reliever Jacob Liedka, as Rundle hit a sac fly to right field scoring Valdes, giving the team a 7-0 advantage.
The CornBelters finally got on the board in the sixth as Steve Alexander homered to cut the Freedom lead to 7-1. Alexander's shot was his third in as many games, and thirteenth on the season, best in the Frontier League. Normal added its final run in the ninth, as Asif Shah scored on a Colin Moro groundout.
Andy Clark pitched seven innings and recorded the win for Florence, improving to 5-1. Sheldon picks up the loss for Normal and falls to 5-2 this season. Normal's bullpen combined for six hits and one run allowed over eight innings of work.
The CornBelters take the day off Tuesday, and begin a six-game road trip on Wednesday against the Windy City ThunderBolts. Tyler Lavigne (2-4, 2.87) will start for Normal against Todd Privett (4-2, 2.75) of Windy City.