AKRON, Ohio (July 25, 2010) – The Akron Racers treated 2,772 fans in attendance today to a twinbill sweep of the first place Chicago Bandits with 5-2 victories in both games at Firestone Stadium.
With both wins, the Racers (16-13) climb back into second place in the National Pro Fastpitch standings alongside the USSSA Pride while the Bandits (19-12) see their first place lead trimmed to just one and a half games with both defeats.
Lisa Norris (10-3) became the first 10-game winner in the league with tonight’s victory, limiting the Bandits to just a pair of runs—only one of which was earned, and six hits. Norris held the Bandits scoreless across the final six innings and tallied four strikeouts in seven frames. Kristina Thorson (8-3) was effective early on but suffered tonight’s loss, giving up five runs (four earned) on five hits while tallying as many strikeouts in four innings of work.
The long ball played a pivotal role for both clubs as Rachel Folden gave the Bandits a 2-0 lead in the first inning of game two when she clubbed her seventh homer of the year to center after Amber Patton reached on an error.
Two innings later, Crystl Bustos returned the favor with a towering blast to center, plating Jessica Valis who also reached on an error—this of the three-bag variety to tie things up at two runs apiece in the fourth.
Akron broke out the bats in the home half of the fifth to build a 5-2 lead. Kelley Montalvo notched a single to lead off then Micaela Minner narrowly missed a homer, instead doubled to right to put a pair in scoring position. Jackie Pasquerella—a defensive stalwart today, drove both in on a sharp single up the middle to give the Racers a 4-2 edge. Lisa Modglin followed that act up with a RBI single to right, scoring Pasquerella to make it a 5-2 affair, chasing Thorson from the game. Jessica Salinger entered in relief and worked well, neutralizing the Racers offense, only issuing Bustos an intentional walk.
Norris who only strengthened as the game moved along, limited the Bandits to just a hit in both the sixth and seventh, inducing a pair of fly outs and a groundout to close out the final inning.
Game one, the resumption of last night’s weather-suspended contest, saw a rejuvenated Akron lineup come out swinging from the onset. Picking up a 1-1 ballgame, the Bandits went quietly in the top of the third before the Racers put up three runs on five hits to establish a 4-1 lead in the home half. Modglin started the frame with a double to right center which Valis followed up with a bunt single to put a pair on for Jamee Juarez who drove both in on a single to left. Sharonda McDonald would account for the final RBI of the frame as she singled to plate Juarez from third.
The Racers added an insurance run in the sixth when Minner led off with an infield single before scoring on a one-out RBI double off the bat of Modglin to make it a 5-1 affair.
The Bandits struck back in the seventh, tallying a run on Mariesha Marker’s sac-fly RBI but would muster no more as Akron took the game, 5-2.
Juarez (5-6) earned the win in seven frames, giving up a pair of runs on five hits, while collecting five strikeouts today. Nikki Nemitz (3-2) suffered the loss, surrendering five runs (four earned) on 11 hits.
Tonight marked the opening ceremonies for the 2010 PONY Nationals hosted by the Akron Racers. Akron looks to close out the series against the Bandits with a sweep tomorrow (Monday, July 26) at 7:05 p.m. Racer Bug statue giveaways will be distributed to the first 500 fans in the gate. Live stats will be available online at www.poinstreak.com while video will be provided courtesy of MLB.com.