It was a game highlighted by homeruns, but ultimately came down to the smaller aspects of the game as the Chicago Bandits defeated the Tennessee Diamonds 5-4 at Judson University in Elgin, Ill.
The homeruns started in the top of the third inning, when the Diamonds’ Carly Wynn hit a solo shot with a 3-2 count to put the Diamonds up 1-0. Tennessee poured it on in the fourth inning with back-to-back homeruns from Megan Gibson and Loryn Johnson.
Down 0-3, the Bandits held tough. In the bottom of the fourth, after a Rachel Folden single, Samantha Findlay hit a two-run homerun to cut the Diamonds lead to 3-2.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, a leadoff walk began a rally for the Chicago Bandits. Rachel Folden doubled to left-center field to put runners on second and third. Diamonds pitcher, Megan Gibson, intentionally walked the next hitter, Samantha Findlay, to load the bases with no outs.
The Diamonds then substituted Shannan Sheeley in at pitcher, moving Megan Gibson to first base and bringing in catcher, Aubree Brattin.
After the pitching change, Bandit Nikki Nemitz grounded into a force out at home plate to preserve the Diamonds 3-2 lead.
Amberly Waits, who subbed in to pinch run for Rachel Folden, scored during the next at-bat on a wild pitch to tie the game up at 3-3 and put the count at 3-2 for Chicago’s Emily Friedman.
Friedman finished the at-bat with a walk, which again loaded the bases for the Bandits with one out. Chicago’s Rachel Mitchell then hit a grounder to shortstop which was thrown home for the force out, but instead hit base runner, Samantha Findlay who scored followed by Nemitz to put the Bandits up 5-3.
With runners on second and third, Nicole Pauly was hit by a pitch, loading the bases again with one out. The Diamonds then subbed in pitcher, Kristin Erb for Sheeley who struck out her first batter, Christine Knauer and induced a groundball from Stacy May to end the inning for the Diamonds.
Bandits’ pitcher, Kristina Thorson was clutch for the Bandits today. In the top of the fifth inning with a runner in scoring position and two outs she struck out Amanda Williams to end the inning.
The Diamonds tried to rally in the top of the seventh inning, down 5-3, when Chelsie Mesa hit a lead-off homerun to pull the Diamonds within one run of the Bandits.
But that was as close as the Diamonds would come. After the homerun, the Bandits pulled Thorson for pitcher, Nikki Nemitz. Nemitz, who struck out the first two Diamonds batters she faced to put the Bandits one out away from a come-from-behind victory. Stacy May snagged a hard Jenna Rhodes groundball at third base and finished the play to end the contest.
The Bandits now improve to 6-7 and will face the Diamonds again tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. for the second of a five game series.