AKRON, Ohio (June 25, 2010) – Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Crystl Bustos’ return was the difference maker in Akron’s 2-1 victory over the Chicago Bandits at Firestone Stadium tonight.
Akron (7-3) designated player, Bustos was 2-for-3 in her first start of the 2010 campaign and provided the key go-ahead run on a RBI triple in the third. The win marks the second consecutive for the Racers over Chicago (4-6) at home and third-straight dating back to June 22 to keep Akron tied with the USSSA Pride atop the NPF standings.
Lisa Norris (4-0) went the distance and gave up just one run on six scattered hits to register the win, striking out seven batters. Jessica Sallinger (2-2) worked four frames and allowed a pair of runs on three hits, issuing five walks to take the loss.
The Racers got the offense rolling in the second when Trena Peel led off the frame with a double to the gap in left center before Sallinger issued back-to-back walks to Samantha Ricketts and Mackenzie Vandergeest to load the bases. With one away, Courtney Bures roped a single into right to plate Peel to put the Racers ahead, 1-0. With the bases still full of Racers, Akron seemed poised to add to the lead but a strikeout and solid defensive play from second baseman Nicole Pauly, who hustled out to shallow right to snag a dying quail, ensured otherwise.
The Bandits wasted little time tying the contest when Stacey May lofted a one-out double to left field and then scored on an Angela Findlay single in the top of the third.
The back and forth affair continued in the home half of the third. Jessica Valis earned the walk to start the frame and scored from first on Bustos’ triple to right center to help Akron regain the lead, 2-1.
A pitcher’s duel then ensued with Norris limiting the Bandits to just one hit across the next three innings.
The Bandits were in prime position to make a run of things atop the seventh when centerfielder Emily Friedman led off with a double to left. A smart move by Norris on the next play wiped Friedman as the lead runner at third on a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning. A fly out and strikeout would seal the deal for the home club, securing the 2-1 Racer victory.
The series continues tomorrow (Saturday, June 26) with a 7:05 p.m. start at Firestone Stadium. In celebration of Racer mascot Wheelie’s birthday on Mascot Mania Night, the first 500 fans will receive Wheelie bank giveaways. Be sure to catch the action online at either MLB.com with a $19.95 season-long subscription or follow live stats at Pointstreak.com.