Tucson, Ariz.-- The Arizona Heat used a big first inning, and solid relief pitching to hold off the Venezuelan National Team on Thursday. The Heat scored six runs in the bottom of the first off Venezuelan pitcher Mariange Bogado. Nancy Evans, making her first start for the Heat, pitched four strong innings to get the win. Erica Beach relieved Evans in the fifth, and finished off the game allowing only one run, and picking up her first save.
The Heat batters came ready to play, as 12 came to the plate in the first, scoring six runs on five hits. Lauren Bauer started off the game with an infield single and promptly stole second before Nichole Thompson reached on a walk. With a runner on first and second, the Heat pulled off a double steal to move both runners into scoring position.
Toni Mascarenas followed with an RBI single and the Heat led 1-0. After another double steal, Jackie Coburn ripped a double to left-centerfield driving in two runs. Tara Knudsen walked and Phelan Wright reached on an error that scored Coburn, and the Heat led 4-0. Two more hits and a walk later, the Heat was up 6-0. In the inning, the Heat stole a franchise record six bases, with Bauer and Thompson swiping two each.
Coburn finished the game two for three with two doubles and two runs batted in, and Lauren Bauer had two hits of her own to lead the Heat's hitting attack. Bauers two steals gave her four in the last two games; tying the Heat season record set last year.
Evans, one of three returning Heat players from last season, made the first start of her career. After retiring the side in the first two innings, the Venezuelan Team got to Evans in the third. Venezuela cut the lead in half by plating three in the inning. Denisee Fuenmayor and Maribel Riera led off the inning with back-to-back singles to give the Venezuelans their first two base runners of the game. Evans retired the next two hitters, before Angelica Irigoyen hit a two run single into leftfield.
Lelys Gomez singled and Maria Soto doubled off the wall to drive in Irigoyen before Gomez was gunned down at the plate on a perfect relay by the Heat.
Evans came back out for the fourth, giving up only an unearned run. Beach relieved Evans the next inning, and gave up a run on a Ruby Rojas single, narrowing the Heat lead to 6-5.
After her rocky start, Bogado settled down, not allowing a Heat player to score in the next three innings. However, the Heat added an insurance run in the fifth on an RBI double by Lauren Bauer. After Cheryl Schaefer doubled to right field and Ladonia Hughes sacrificed her over to third, Bauer came up with her clutch double. That would prove to be more than enough for Erica Beach, who held the Venezuelan Team scoreless over the final two innings to preserve the Heat win.
The two teams will square off for the second game of the series tomorrow night at 7:30 pm at Hi Corbett Field.