TAMPA — Coach A.J. Leppla hopes big things are in Freedom's future. A 6-5 win over perennial power Gaither on Friday night could expedite those plans.
It was the Class 5A, District 9 opener for both teams.
"This is big for our program," Leppla said. "We haven't had a whole lot of success in the past, and this is a very big statement win, hopefully, for the rest of the season."
Junior right-hander Kyle Schindler gave Freedom (5-0) six solid innings. Senior Alex Wentz picked up his second career save, inducing Zach Jackson to fly to left with runners on first and second for the final out.
"It was our first district game against Gaither, the favorite," Wentz said. "It was big for us. Coach always emphasizes district games."
Gaither (1-1), a 2010 region quarterfinalist, beat Freedom twice last year, 11-3 and 17-10 under veteran coach Frank Permuy.
Eric Schindler, Kyle's brother, went 4-for-4. Freedom broke a 2-all tie with two runs in the second, and added two unearned runs in the sixth for a 6-2 lead. Kyle Schindler (1-0) allowed only three hits and one earned run — Jose Gonzalez's home run. Schindler tired in the seventh, allowing four hits and three runs.
Alejandro Brunet's RBI single cut the deficit to 6-5 with two outs, chasing Schindler. Wentz hit the first batter he faced before getting Jackson to end the game.