Stratford, CONN - The Chicago Bandits long travel day did not stand in their way Thursday night, as they beat the Connecticut Brakettes 7-2. The Bandits arrived late at DeLuca HOF Field, as thunder storms forced many flights to be delayed throughout the Midwest and Northeast. After showing up after the scheduled start time, the Bandits crammed in some hurried warm-ups, before playing in Connecticut for the first time. Their bats arrived late as well, but proved too much for a depleted Brakettes pitching staff.
The Brakettes started the scoring in the third with two outs. The bases were loaded for rookie Stephanie Hill, who grounded to shortstop Jamie Clark. Clark fired across the diamond to first, but pulled Christina Enea off first base. Hill avoided the tag, allowing Kellie Wilkerson to score from third. Enea then fired home to Selena Collins, but delivered another errant throw for the Bandits, allowing Jessica Merchant to score the second Brakette run.
The score would remain in the Brakettes favor until the fifth, when the Bandits plated three runs. Clark had an RBI single to pull the Bandits to within 2-1. A wild pitch by Kaci Clark allowed the Bandits to tie it at 2. After tacking on another run, to take the lead 3-2, the Bandits again went to work in the sixth. Jamie Clark was again the culprit, nailing a 2-run triple, chasing Kaci Clark from the mound. Kellie Wilkerson came in with two outs in the sixth, allowing a single to score the inherited baserunner, then gave up an unearned run of her own.
The Brakettes were hampered by a freak injury to scheduled starting pitcher, Sarah Pauly. Pauly saw an eye specialist Thursday after feeling irritation in both eyes. Though she should be fine within days, she was treated for scratched corneas, and watched the game through sunglasses. Nikki Myers was also unavailable, leaving the slugger Wilkerson for mop-up duty. Wilkerson pitched a scoreless seventh, but the Brakettes could not chip into the Bandit lead.
Jessica Salinger went 4 1/3 innings for the win, giving up just the two unearned runs and four hits. Amy Harre relieved Salinger in the fifth, and stifled any rallies the Brakettes tried to start. Clark threw 5 2/3 innings, walking none while striking out six, but gave up nine hits. Five of the six runs allowed by Clark were earned.
The Brakettes will host the second game of the four-game series Friday night in Stratford, CT, at 7:05. With the loss, the Brakettes drop to 7-3, while the Bandits improvd to 9-3. Chicago and Connecticut have switched spots in the NPF standings, with the Bandits now in sole possession of first, the Brakettes alone in second place.