Lowell, Mass.--Thursday night's game between the New England Riptide and the Texas Thunder figured to be a battle between two great pitchers, as Jocelyn Forest and Christa Williams hooked up in the opening game of the four game series. Both pitchers struggled in the first but settled down after that as the Riptide took the game 3-2 on a bottom of the seventh-single with the bases loaded.
Forest started slowly, after getting Kristen Zaleski to pop to short, she gave up a single to Lindsay Gardner and a walk to Amanda Freed.
Both runners advanced on a well hit fly out to the wall in right field, but after a long battle on a 3-2 count Forest finally struck out Adrian Gregory to end the inning.
Williams was not quite as fortunate. The first two Riptide batters, Lyndsey Angus and Lisa Iancin, singled to left and advanced one base on a Kellie Wilkerson ground out.
A walk to Sarah Andersen loaded the bases for Rachael McGinnis who came through with a sharp single between short and third. McGinnis was later doubled up after Ashley Courtney was out on a soft line drive to Gregory at shortstop.
Both pitchers settled down nicely after that, the Thunder picking up only two more hits and the Riptide one until the sixth.
The Thunder took the lead in the top of the sixth when Amanda Freed doubled into the left center gap and advanced to third when Claire Burnham grounded out.
Forest got two quick strikes on Gregory and jammed her on the next pitch, but Gregory was able to punch it over Jess Merchant at short to score Freed.
Worse for the Riptide, Sara Jewett overran the ball as she charged it and overthrew second as Gregory attempted to advance. The throw careened into right field and Gregory managed to come around to score.
The Riptide got the run back in the bottom of the inning on a bizarre play. Kellie Wilkerson hit a hard single to right and was obstructed as she rounded first. She advanced to second, however as Texas argued the call, they left third base open and Wilkerson helped herself to it.
Andersen was hit by the next pitch and in came Kristine Botto to pinch run. Botto stole second and Gregory did not handle the throw cleanly, allowing Wilkerson to come home for her second stolen base of the inning.
Forest got the Thunder 1-2-3 in the seventh.
The lively crowd was on its feet screaming for a run and the Tide delivered with a bit of help from the defense.
With two outs Angus drew a walk and Burnham booted Iancin's ground ball to third. Wilkerson walked on four pitches. Sarah Andersen came through with a hard ground ball single just past the diving glove of second baseman Gardner.
This scored Ashley Moore who had come in to run for Angus, and gave the Riptide the 3-2 win. The Riptide's winning streak is now at five and it continues the series Friday at 7:05 at Martin Softball Field.
In a very special pregame ceremony, the Division 1 State Champion Lowell Red Raiders will be honored on the field. All Lowell residents dressed in Lowell High team colors will be admitted for no charge.