CRESTWOOD, IL – Devin Shepherd started his first game for the ThunderBolts on Saturday night and was an instant success. Shepherd had four hits and drove in four runs as the ThunderBolts defeated the Florence Freedom 14-5 at Standard Bank Stadium.
The Freedom got off to a great start, scoring three times in the first on a two-run Jimmy Baker home run and an RBI double from Chris Curley.
But the Bolts answered with two runs of their own in the bottom half. Brandon Anderson led off with a walk and after a Mike Torres bunt single, Ryan Basham walked as well. With the bases loaded, Shepherd lined a Cody Walden pitch up the middle for a two-run base hit.
Windy City tied the game in the third when Shepherd doubled with two outs and Zach Aakhus singled him home. Then in the fourth, they took their first lead of the series. Nick Kuroczko doubled and Chase Porch singled to put runners at the corners. J.J. Sferra’s squeeze bunt made the score 4-3, and Anderson’s double put the Bolts up by two.
The Freedom tied the game back up in the top of the fifth, but the ThunderBolts went on top for good in the bottom. Chris Wade’s sacrifice fly scored Shepherd, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, and Nick Kuroczko’s double scored Aakhus, who had doubled himself earlier in the inning.
The onslaught continued for the ThunderBolts, and they scored five times in the sixth. The inning was highlighted by another two-run single for Shepherd and a two-run single for Chris Wade, extending his hit streak to 14 games to begin the season.
The scoring was capped in the eighth as the Bolts added two runs for good measure. Porch and Sferra each doubled following a Pascual Del Real walk and the final score was set at 14-5.
Kurt Frymier pitched a scoreless inning and a third for the win (1-0) and Adam Painter gave up seven runs in relief for the loss (0-1)
The rubber match will be played in Crestwood Sunday night at 6:05. The game will also be the finale of a six-game homestand. Matt Jernstad (1-1) will take the hill for Windy City against Preston Vancil (0-1) for the Freedom. Sunday’s contest will be broadcast on SportsJuice.com with a 5:45 pregame show.