TAMPA — Freedom rallied from a four-run deficit on the road Tuesday to hand Gaither its second district loss in a 7-6 victory.
Junior Alex Milne started for Gaither and had a solid outing heading into the fifth inning with six strikeouts and a 6-2 lead. But a couple of walks, some timely hitting and intelligent baserunning from the Patriots proved to be the unraveling of the Cowboys (8-3, 5-2) as Freedom put five runs on the board in the fifth.
"Tonight it was stuff that we've been preaching all year that made the difference," Freedom coach A.J. Leppla said. "I told them (Monday) that there will be a game where we don't hit the ball that well but we win because of the little things. Sure enough, it happened today."
For the Patriots (8-5, 4-4), starting pitcher Kyle Schindler's battle with a stomach bug got the best of him as he lasted only two innings giving up six runs before having turn it over to his bullpen.
Matt Dunbar came on in relief and kept Gaither off the scoreboard before handing the game over to Dave Seward, who closed out the game in the sixth.
"It was great to see Matt come in and shut the door for us," Leppla said. "Dave came on and was lights out. We knew Kyle might have problems because he's been under the weather but he wanted to try it. We had to go to the bullpen a little earlier than we wanted to, but those guys showed we can trust them to come in and get the job done."
Leppla's team has struggled at times this season, but victories like this one have him feeling as if his team is still in contention for a successful season.
"We needed this win big time," Leppla said. "We're hoping to see this team come district championship time. I think there is a lot of parity in this district. We're right in the thick of things where we need to be."