AKRON, Ohio An eventful six-run sixth inning gave the Akron Racers the edge in their 6-2 defeat of the New England Riptide on Tuesday night at Firestone Stadium.
Designated player Antionette Armstrong blasted a key single in the sixth inning, which allowed three runs to score and opened the gates for the Racers to win their 26th game and maintain at least a share of first place in National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) standings.
The Racers fell behind early, allowing the Riptide to score two runs in the top of the second on two hits, including an RBI single off the bat of designated player Emily Krueger.
Akron kept the crowd waiting until the sixth inning to respond, when shortstop Kristin Johnson worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second on Tracee McCoys fielders choice sacrifice bunt. Consecutive walks to pinch-hitter Nikki Myers and second baseman Brandi Stuart forced in Johnson to give the Racers their first run. With no outs, the NPFs leader in batting average, center fielder Iyhia McMichael dropped a single into right field to plate McCoy and knot the score at two runs apiece.
After retiring the next two batters, Riptide pitcher Leigh Ann Ellis served up her fourth walk of the inning to right fielder Trena Peel, bringing in Stuart with the go-ahead run. Armstrong provided insurance for the Racers with a line single into right field, scoring Myers from third and McMichael from second. Peel took a wide turn at third on the throw home, forcing herself into a pickle, and eventually touched home on an errant throw from Riptide catcher Jessica Allister to set the score at the 6-2 final. Armstrongs clutch hit was named the Summa Health Care System Play of the Game.
In the pitchers circle, Radara McHugh worked a complete game to garner her ninth victory of the season, tying her for first in the NPF in wins. McHugh struck out six and surrendered only three hits in the outing to be named the Custom Sports Imprints Player of the Game.
The Racers and the Riptide play game two of the series tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. at Firestone Stadium and conclude the three-game set at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, July 29. For more information, call 330-376-8188 or log on to www.akronracers.org.