Bandits stave off late comeback for 5-4 win
In spite of a late comeback attempt by the Beijing Shougang Eagles in the seventh inning, the Chicago Bandits secured a tight 5-4 victory on Tuesday night at The Ballpark at Rosemont.
Beijing served as the home team in the contest, despite its location.
Coming off an exhibition game on Monday night against the Frontier League's Windy City ThunderBolts in a "Battle of the Sexes," Chicago quickly changed its mentality to suit a serious league game.
"It's easy (to change gears) because these girls know what's at stake," Bandits head coach Sharonda McDonald said. "They know the seriousness of every single game we play and the implications of those."
Sahvanna Jaquish got the scoring started in the first inning by muscling a line drive single up the middle, plating Alexa Peterson for the game's first run. Emily Crane, making her first start July 23, stepped in next and laced an RBI-double into right-center to score Natalie Hernandez. The Bandits took the 2-0 lead into the bottom of the first.
Brenna Moss extended her hitting streak to nine games with a second-inning base hit to left field and finished the night 2-for-4 to boost her batting average to a robust .360.
"She's been great," McDonald said of Moss' impressive campaign at the plate. "She really gets our team going offensively."
The Bandits tacked on a third tally in the third inning when Hernandez, who singled to lead off the frame, came around to score on a base hit off the bat of Jaquish paired with a throwing error.
Lacey Waldrop earned the start in the circle for Chicago, and after giving up a run in the first, tossed a scoreless second frame. She ran into trouble in the third, however, when Lu Ying launched a two-run home run just inside the right-field foul pole to tie the game at three and knock Waldrop out of the contest. She completed 2.2 innings of work, giving up three earned runs and striking out two Eagles batters. Ying's two-run blast marked the third long ball of the 2017 season for Beijing.
Chicago put up two runs in the top of the sixth to regain the lead. Moss led off with what appeared to be a routine base hit, although she moved into scoring position with some heads-up baserunning. Two batters later, Emily Carosone delivered the go-ahead RBI on a groundout to shortstop. An RBI-double from Hernandez easily scored Sammy Marshall on the next play to give the Bandits a 5-3 cushion.
Beijing answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Bandits' lead to one, and attempted to mount a late comeback in the seventh, but couldn't push the tying run across. The Bandits held on to earn the 5-4 victory.
Sierra Hyland logged 3.0 innings of work in relief of Waldrop to earn her first win as a professional. Ellen Sara Roberts locked down the final 1.1 innings en route to the save and Vaultz® Lock It Up!® Player of the Game honors.
With the win, the Bandits improved to 20-18 on the season, holding firm to the third playoff spot.
"We feel good," Moss said of her team's mentality heading into the final stretch of the regular season. "There are some things we're still pushing through, working out, but collectively we're working really well together."
The Bandits are back in action on Wednesday as they take on Beijing and the Scrap Yard Dawgs in a doubleheader. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. with the nightcap beginning at 7:05 p.m., both at The Ballpark at Rosemont