FLORENCE, S.C. – With a brand-new team under a new coach, it took a while for the Florence RedWolves to find their footing, so to speak.
The team stumbled out of the gate to a 1-3 record, and a five-game losing streak following that left the RedWolves looking up in the Coastal Plain League’s Southern Division standings for the remainder of the first half of the season.
That’s not the case anymore.
Florence returns to action at 7 p.m. today at Sparrow Stadium against Macon, and following the CPL All-Star break, the RedWolves find themselves atop of the division with a 3-1 second-half record.
Their winning percentage (.750) puts them just above Lexington County (4-2), and they’re a game clear of Macon (2-2) and Savannah (2-2). The Bananas won the first-half championship, and Florence is looking to do the same in the second half.
“I think we’ve gotten a little bit more of an identity,” RedWolves coach Ryan Vruggink said. “We brought in some new arms that have really helped us out early on in this half with Parker White and (Isaac) Rodgers and (Zach) Reid.
“And we’re just playing better baseball. We’re making better decisions on the bases, limiting our mistakes and just getting back to playing a better brand of baseball.”
The offense has also been on an uptick lately. The RedWolves have scored at least five runs in each of their past five completed games. The pitching has also allowed a combined four runs in their previous two completed games.
“We’ve just got to keep doing more of the same (the rest of the way),” Vruggink said. “It was good for these guys to get a little break and get some time off to clear their heads and heal up from some nagging injuries.
“Now we’ve just got to have guys keep being relaxed and do what they’re capable of doing.”
East wins All-Star Showdown
The championship round of the CPL All-Star Showdown was held Monday in Savannah, and the East (Division) All-Stars earned a walk-off 2-1 victory over the Fan Vote All-Stars.
The semifinal and championship games were each three innings long.
Earlier in the day, the East All-Stars earned a 2-1 victory over the South All-Stars. Florence’s Michael Richardson, a late addition to the team, drove in the lone run for the South team with a second-inning single. Eldrige Figueroa was 0 for 1 in the contest.
RedWolves’ reliever Connor Holden took the loss after allowing two earned runs on three hits in an inning of work.
Savannah’s Baucom wins home run derby
Savannah’s Ethan Baucom won the 2019 CPL home run derby on Sunday over teammate Gabe Howell in front of the home crowd.
The field featured one participant from each of the six All-Star teams, but Baucom and Howell, who was voted in by the fans, were the two left standing after the opening round with seven and four home runs, respectively.
They each hit seven home runs in round two, forcing a tiebreaker that Baucom eventually won.