After struggling to find their footing in recent weeks, the Florence Y'alls have taken several steps in the right direction.
The first step came on Wednesday, when starting pitcher Christian Tripp signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
“We thought he would have a real shot of getting picked up but we didn’t know how quick it would be," Y'alls manager Brian White told the Enquirer. "It happened all of a sudden. One morning the Brewers just randomly called and said they wanted to purchase his contract, so that was pretty quick."
Tripp has since left the Y'alls to train in Arizona in the Brewers system. He is expected to join the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (High-A) afterwards.
Tripp changed from reliever to starter this season for the Y'alls. He started four games and went 0-1 with a 4.90 ERA.
According to White, Tripp had previously been in discussion to be acquired by the Brewers, but the organization never pulled the trigger. Tripp came to the Y'alls to help improve his numbers and he left striking out 23 batters in 22 innings with five walks.
Tripp's signing came during the Y'alls home series against the Lake Eerie Crushers. The Y'alls took two out of three against the Crushers. The team was notably more aggressive at the plate, scoring at least six runs in each game.
“The offense was ready to play. We lost game two, kind of just beat ourselves again on that but game one and three we secured the baseball, minimized the walks, had some really good at-bats,” White said. “It was a good series overall ... Two out of three, you can’t complain about that.”
Axel Johnson's return to gateway
Since being released from the Gateway Grizzlies and joining the Florence Y'alls, Axel Johnson had not been back to GCS Credit Union Ballpark in Sauget, Illinois.
And when he did make his return, he wanted to make it notable.
On Friday night, Johnson recorded three hits, two of which were home runs, against his former club. Johnson's home run in the seventh inning broke the 4-4 tie and gave Florence the edge.
“He was playing with a little chip on his shoulder from being released over there and then had a phenomenal day at the plate," White said. "Every ball was hit hard and it was blasted off the bat so all the guys are super pumped up. Everybody after the game was very excited. It was pretty cool to see.”
Johnson's powerhouse night led the Y'alls to a 6-4 victory against the Grizzlies. It also improved the Y'alls to 25-14 on the season.
The Y'alls are now one game out of first place in the West Division.
“The guys are finally settling down and breathing again and not being so tense up there, whether it's on the mound or at the plate," White said of his team's improvements. "We are good when we relax and take a step back and realize that we are better than the team in the other dugout as long as we just play our game. I think we were trying to do some things and force some issues that we didn’t need to force at the time but once they were able to breathe a little bit and calm down we were able to pull out some wins like we have and now.”
The Y'alls were to finish the Grizzlies on Saturday and Sunday at 5:45 p.m.