There was a time, back in the early years of each franchise, when a game against the Florence Freedom, on a comfortable night, in front of boisterous crowd, was only a cold beer shy of perfect for the Wild Things.
Washington dominated Florence in those days, but things have changed in recent seasons. Florence had turned the tide and beaten Washington 19 times in the previous 22 meetings.
On Friday night, however, it was like old times at Consol Energy Park.
Lefty pitcher Dayne Quist tossed seven stellar innings, Jovan Rosa hit a solo homer and the Wild Things had 14 hits and three sacrifice flies in a 5-1 victory over Florence before 2,871 rowdy fans.
The loss ended Washington’s season-high seven-game losing streak.
“That was the best ballgame we played all year,” Washington manager Bart Zeller said. “We did the fundamental things that we needed to do, and it was good to see the crowd really into the game. It was electric. That kind of crowd helps.”
It was a costly loss for Florence, which is desperately battling for a playoff berth. The Freedom began the night tied with Southern Illinois, two games behind Gateway for the final wild-card berth. Gateway also lost, 4-2, at Evansville.
“Little consolation,” said Fran Riordan, whose team has 17 games remaining, including five at Washington.
Quist (7-2), acquired recently in a trade with Southern Illinois, gave up five hits and four walks but only one run over seven innings for his first victory with Washington. Pat Butler, a rookie out of the University of Connecticut, followed with a scoreless inning and Amalio Diaz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
“Quist threw a heck of a game, Butler did his job and Diaz finished it,” Riordan said. “When you get only five hits, you don’t deserve to win. There were not a lot of competitive at-bats in that game.”
Florence’s only run came in the fifth inning when rookie Nick Stein, the No. 9 hitter in the Freedom lineup, hit his first professional home run, which tied the score at 1-1.
The Wild Things regained the lead in the sixth, scoring three runs and knocking out Florence starter Dan Osterbrook (1-2), a former seventh-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins. Quincy Latimore’s sacrifice fly drove in Tim Williams, who was making his pro debut, with the go-ahead run. Mark Samuelson’s sacrifice fly brought home C.J. Beatty, and Rosa doubled and scored on Stewart Ijames’ triple past diving right fielder Pablo Bermudez.
“After a terrible road trip to Lake Erie, it was good see these guys bounce back and play a good game of baseball,” Zeller said. “There was excitement in the dugout. They felt something happening.”
Rosa, who was 2-for-4, provided an insurance run with a solo homer to left centerfield in the eighth.
Every Washington batter had at least one hit, and five collected two hits. Those two-hit players included Williams, a left fielder out of George Fox University, an NCAA Division III school in Oregon. He was signed Friday to take the roster spot left open when center fielder Tyler Hall was placed on the suspended list because of a family issue.
“Williams had been playing on (an amateur) team called the San Diego Force with a couple of guys, Tyler Elrod and Steve Messner, who we recently signed,” Zeller explained. “When we found out Hall would be done for the year, we talked to the manager in San Diego.
“Tim’s a guy who was willing to fly in on the spur of the moment – so you know it wasn’t cheap – just for the opportunity to play professional baseball.”
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Shain Stoner led off with a double, advanced on a bunt by Williams and scored on a sacrifice fly by Beatty.
Ijames leads the league with 25 doubles. … Beatty had two singles and pulled to within one of Florence third baseman Jacob Tanis for the league lead in total bases. … In the first inning, Florence shortstop Junior Arrojo was hit by a pitch for a league single-season record 35th time. Arrojo was hit by 34 pitches last season.