Freeland an unlikely all star for Champion City Kings

After tearing up the Prospect League for the last four weeks, Champion City Kings catcher Jacob Freeland has a new moniker — All-Star.

“All glory to God, that’s all I can say about that,” Freeland said. “I didn’t think I had a chance. Honestly, I was planning a trip home to go see my family and my girlfriend.”

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Since joining the team on June 16, Freeland has been one of the most productive hitters in the league. In 27 appearances through July 18, he’s hitting .333 with four home runs, eight doubles and 15 RBIs.

“That joker can roll out of bed and hit,” said Kings manager John Jeanes.

Freeland was one of four Kings players named to the Prospect League East Division All-Star team, including third baseman Stephen Cullen, catcher Bo Seccombe and pitcher Jared Hatch.

In mid-June, Freeland was hanging out at his home in Cape Coral, Fla., waiting for a phone call to continue playing. He recently finished up his eligibility at Faulkner University, an NAIA school in Montgomery, Ala.

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“I was trying to catch somewhere, trying to get a job in independent baseball,” Freeland said.

The call finally came from Seccombe, a catcher for the Champion City Kings and Freeland’s college teammate. He made an immediate impact, hitting .692 in his first six games, including a five-hit game on June 26.

Freeland is also tied for fifth in the league 27 walks.

“I’ve just been looking for a good pitch to hit, working counts,” he said.

He’s enjoyed his time in Springfield, despite the heat in Ohio this summer.

“I love it here,” Freeland said. “It’s a blast. I love this group of guys. I think we have a lot of fun. It’s nice being around people that want to keep getting better.”

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The All-Star game will be played in Normal, Ill. at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Seccombe, who is second in the league in home runs with 12, will also participate in the Prospect League Home Run Derby on July 22. Seccombe is hitting .292 with 30 RBIs.

Cullen has been the Kings top hitter this season with a team-best .344 average and 33 RBIs. He’s tied for fourth in the league in home runs with 10.

Hatch is 2-1 with 27 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched. He leads the team with a 2.70 earned run.

Freeland has also become a fan favorite thanks to his trademark “raise the roof” celebration, which mostly happens after he lands at second base with a double. He said it originated as one of multiple celebrations at Faulkner.

“We had a couple different celebrations and that was the one that always stuck with me,” Freeland said. “Let’s have a party out there (at second base).”

Big win: On July 16, the Kings snapped the Terre Haute Rex's 11-game winning streak with a 6-3 win in a five-inning game at Carleton Davidson Stadium that was called early due to inclement weather. It was Terre Haute's only trip to Champion City this season.

Southeastern High School grad and Wright State University pitcher Wes Earles tossed 4.1 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out four batters.

Through Thursday’s games, Earles leads the Kings in strikeouts with 32 in 22.2 innings pitched this summer.

Schedule: Champion City is 22-20 overall through July 18 and sits in fourth place in the East Division behind Danville (28-13), Chillicothe (28-16) and Terre Haute (24-19). After the All-Star break concludes on Wednesday, the Kings have just 13 games remaining, including six home dates.

The Kings have a four-game homestand beginning July 27 against Lafayette. They’ll host West Virginia on July 28 and play a two-game set against Chillicothe on July 29 and 30.

The final two home games of the season will be played on Aug. 4 (West Virginia, 4 p.m. start) and Aug. 5 (Fireworks Night, 6:35 p.m., all tickets $10).

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