The combination of legendary veteran Jennie Finch and rookie Nicole Pauly paid victorious dividends Sunday afternoon for the Chicago Bandits - but it was only a temporary reprieve.
Trailing 1-0 in the best-of-three National Pro Fastpitch Championship series, the Bandits rode the talents of the Finch-Pauly duo to a 7-2 victory over the USSSA Florida Pride in Sulphur, La.
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That set up a winner-take-all finale later Sunday.
Ace pitcher Cat Osterman baffled the Bandits with a complete-game 2-hitter - a pair of Samantha Findlay home runs - as the Pride captured the championship with a 7-2 triumph.
The Bandits' Finch and Stacy May ended their careers.
In the opener, Pauly (3-for-3), blasted a solo home in the top of the fifth inning to give the Bandits a 1-0 lead. May tripled and scored on an RBI groundout by Amber Patton, and Rachel Folden singled and Findlay delivered an RBI double to make the score 3-0.
That gave Finch more than enough cushion to earn the win. Finch gave up solo home runs to Alissa Haber and Kelly Kretschman, allowing 4 hits and striking out nine in a seven-inning distance effort.
The Bandits' Angela Findlay belted a solo homer in the seventh.
Flyers 9, Fielders 4: A solid start translated into an even better finish for the host Schaumburg Flyers as they beat the Lake County Fielders at Alexian Field to sweep their three-game Northern League series.
In the Flyers' first inning, Travis Brown led off with a triple and Ruddy Yan followed with a RBI single. Kit Pellow belted a 2-run homer to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead. Yan added another RBI single in the second. In the third, Chris Schulz drove in a pair with a double and Yan drove in his third run with a single as the Flyers built a 7-1 lead.
The Flyers' Chris Schultz hit a solo homer and Mario Delgado added an RBI double.
The Fielders' Cody Strait hit a solo homer, Adam Hale tripled and Kyle Higgins and Juan Valdes doubled.
Dustin Glant pitched 7 innings to earn the win, allowing 2 runs on 10 hits.
Timber Rattlers 11, Cougars 10 (11): In a wild, 4-hour, 7-minute marathon that lasted 11 innings, the Kane County Cougars lost to the host Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in a Midwest League contest at Time Warner Cable Field. The Cougars' lead over Beloit for the wild-card playoff berth dropped to 1 game with eight remaining.
The Cougars trailed 6-1 after four innings, but Mitch LeVier hit a solo homer and Conner Crumbliss belted a 2-run homer to pull within 6-4.
Trailing 9-4 in the eight, the Cougars' LeVier, Crumbliss and Jose Crissotomo drew consecutive bases-loaded walks to make it 9-7. Down to their final strike in the ninth, the Cougars rallied again as LeVier nailed a 2-run double and Crisotomo walked with the bases loaded to tie it 10-10. The Cougars drew a season-high 14 walks.