FLORENCE, Ky. — Jacinto Garcia threw five shutout innings and Jonathan De Marte held on in the bottom of the seventh as the Normal CornBelters earned a 2-1 victory over the Florence Freedom to earn a split of a key Frontier League doubleheader Wednesday at UC Health Stadium.
Derrick Loveless blasted a solo home run in the top of the first, but that was all the Belters could muster in the first game as Florence took a 5-1 victory.
The split left the Belters with a 47-44 record and 1½ games behind River City in the tight West Division standings with four games left. Florence is 48-44 and a game behind.
Garcia (6-5) had a 19.16 earned run average in his last three starts. But in perhaps Normal's biggest game of the season he came through by allowing three hits while walking two and striking out two.
Run-scoring singles by Cam Adams and Michael Baca gave the Belters a 2-0 lead in the fifth of the seven-inning game. De Marte got through the sixth unscathed before John Price's two-out double in the seventh cut Normal's lead to 2-1 and put runners at second and third.
De Marte induced a game-ending groundout to earn his seventh save. Adams had two of Normal's four hits off Steve Hagen (7-7).
Nick Bozman (6-2) suffered the loss for the Belters in the opener. He lasted two innings, giving up four hits and four earned runs while walking three and striking out two.
Loveless had two of Normal's five hits.
Austin Wobrock had two hits and two RBI for Florence. Jordan Kraus (8-5) allowed one earned run while scattering five hits and striking out two in 5⅔ innings.