Houston, Texas-- Texas Thunder held off a late inning rally today by the Venezuelan National Team to take game four and get the series sweep with a final score of 7-4. The series win marks the second for Thunder against international competition and the third overall in regular season competition.
Thunder jumped on the board much earlier today as shortstop Adrian Gregory (Texas A&M) led off the bottom of the second inning with a triple to right field to start the early rally. Karrie Rider (Mississippi State) followed with a single to left to drive in the first run of the game. Rider then advanced to second on right fielder Julie Watsons (CSF) quick bunt, and then scored on pitcher Amanda Freeds (UCLA) RBI single up the middle. Thunder loaded the bases with a walk from left fielder Kim Nesloney (UH) but was unable to increase their lead as centerfielder Kristen Zaleski (Texas State) and third baseman Clare Burnum (Oregon State) grounded out and flew out to end the inning with a score of 2-0.
It only took three outs for Thunder to get on the board again as they added another run in the bottom of the third. With one out, second baseman Lindsay Gardner (UT) singled with a quick bunt and then stole second as the Venezuelan catcher threw behind her in a pick off attempt. An RBI single to centerfield from Crystal Krebs (UCSS) scored Gardner and Thunder closed out the inning with a 3-0 lead.
Thunder added their final runs in the bottom of the sixth as Nesloney led off with a single to left field and then stole second for her third stolen bag of the day. Zaleski followed with an RBI triple to right field to score Nesloney and a ground rule double by Burnum plated Zaleski. Gardner then followed with a single of her own to left field, and with two runners aboard, Gregory dropped a single into left field to plate both runs. Krebs and Rider followed with a ground out and line out to close out the inning and Thunder moved up 7-0.
Venezuela added a few runs of their own in the top of the seventh as Mayumi Murakami came in relief for Freed. Pinch hitter Maribel Riera got things going with a solo home run to left field. The homer marks the first one hit by any team at Wrigley Field this season. Left fielder Ruby Rojas followed with a single to left and then advanced to second on a throwing error by Nesloney. Pinch hitter Lesly Gomez reached first on a hit by pitch and an RBI single by right fielder Mariet Perez scored Rojas from second. Shortstop Denise Fuenmayor reached first on a fielders choice and centerfielder Nidia Pineda laced a single to right field to score pinch runner Yomir Mendoza. Looking for a way to end the rally, Thunder head coach Jav Vela re-entered Freed, but a costly throwing error by the pitcher plated shortstop Fuenmayor from third. With Venezuela threatening with four runs on the board, Freed settled down and retired the next two batters to end the threat and secure the win for the Thunder.
With a final score of 7-4, Thunder gets the series sweep and moves to 15-8 in regular season play. Freed picks up the win to improve her record to 5-3 and Venezuela starter Marianella Castellanos takes the loss. Thunder will take on the Phoenix Flames as part of a four game regular season match-up starting next Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Big League Dreams Sports Park in League City.