Late comeback falls short as Bandits drop opener to Pride

VIERA, Fla. - The Chicago Bandits endured a rough third inning and fell behind early in their series opener against the USSSA Pride on Thursday night at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida. The Pride used their four-run outburst in the third to power a 4-2 victory.

After Bandits starter Haylie Wagner managed to work through the first two frames unscathed, the veteran southpaw ran into trouble in the third. A throwing error on a chopper in front of the circle put a pair of runners in scoring position before a deep sacrifice fly from USSSA's Kelly Kretschman opened up scoring. Lauren Chamberlain followed with an RBI double and the Pride put up two more runs in the inning behind run-scoring hits from Shelby Pendley and Bianka Bell.

Wagner (L, 3-2), who suffered just her second loss of the season, surrendered all four runs one four hits with one walk. She struck out one before giving way to Lacey Waldrop out of the bullpen.

Waldrop calmed the storm and kept the Bandits within striking distance after she delivered a 1-2-3 fourth. The former Florida State standout worked three innings, allowing a single hit and no runs.

Brenna Moss broke up USSSA's shutout bid with a seeing-eye single to plate DJ Sanders in the fifth. However, despite outhitting the league-leading Pride by a 10-5 margin, the Bandits could not string together enough timely base knocks.

Delanie Gourley (W, 5-1) earned the victory for the Pride in relief after the second-year southpaw tossed two innings. She surrendered one run on three hits with one strikeout.

Trailing by three, pinch-hitter Nadia Taylor sparked a late rally with a one-out double down the right-field line. Sammy Marshall later added an RBI single to pull the Bandits within two runs, but the threat proved to be too little, too late.

Pride veteran right-hander Kelsey Nunley collected the save, her first of the 2018 campaign.

The Bandits and Pride will continue their three-game series with a 6 p.m. first pitch Friday at Space Coast Stadium. The game will be broadcast via NPFTV.

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