Racers split Double header with Rockford, Series Remains Tied 2-2
AKRON, Ohio - The differences between game one and game two of the Akron Racer's double header vs the Rockford Thunder were truly like night and day. Game one saw the Racers (4-5) utilize two big innings to win a battle of who can strike last offensively, 11-6. In the night cap, Cat Osterman baffled Racer batters on her way to delivering a no hit performance in a pitcher's duel that put the former Olympian head to head with Akron's perfect game thrower Lisa Norris. A battle that Rockford (5-4) won 5-0.
In game one, the Racers struck first in the bottom of the third inning. Third baseman Jackie Pasquerella started off with a single on a bunt back to the pitcher. Crystl Bustos then laced a single to left field. Back to back walks by Rockford starter Megan Brown forced Pasquerella across the plate for the first run of the game. Jamee Juarez welcomed reliever Samantha Sheeley to the game with a double down the left field line that scored two more runs to make the score 3-0. Kate Robinson stepped to the plate next and completed the Racers five run inning with a two bagger of her own.
Things would remain relatively quiet until the top of the sixth inning when Rockford's bats suddenly awoke in the top of the sixth inning. With the score 5-1 in Akron's favor, the Thunder mounted a comeback that tied the game. Laurie Wagner led off with an infield single. Chelsea Spencer drove a single back up the middle that scored Wagner to cut the lead to 5-2. Spender was able to score when a bunt by Shanel Scott found nothing but open space and rolled almost into left field. An RBI single by Lindsay Angus wrapped up the day for Akron starter Brittany Weil as Kate Robinson came on in relief for her. One more run would come across in the inning to make the comeback complete.
Rockford's good feelings about the rally would be short-lived, as the Racers had another big inning left in them. Jenny Topping started the scoring by driving Pasquerella home with a basehit. After Kristen Butler successfully sacrificed Topping and Bustos over to second and third, Jamee Juarez crushed her second double of the game to drive in two more runs and make the score 8-5. Yet again Racer right fielder Kate Robinson followed Juarez with the second of back to back doubles and drove Juarez home. Lisa Modglin closed the scoring as the ninth batter of the inning when she tripled down the right field line for two more runs.
The Racers left the inning with an 11-5 lead that was lessened by one when Wagner crushed a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning.
Kate Robinson (1-0) got the win in relief as she went 1.2 innings allowing one run on one hit and stirking out a pair of Rockford batters. For the Thunder, Sheeley picked up the loss as she allowed four runs on five hits in three innings.
In the finale of the double header it was the pitchers that decided it all. Rockford drew first blood as Lisa Norris walked the first two batters of the top of the second inning before giving up a two run double to Shanna Diller. Diller would eventually score herself to give Cat Osterman a 3-0 lead to work with.
Osterman definitely worked comfortably with the lead as she refused to allow the first eleven batters she faced reach base. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Bustos chased an Osterman pitch for strike three, the only problem was the ball eluded catcher Megan Willis. By the time Willis tracked it down against the backstop Bustos had hustled down the line to reach on the wild pitch. That would be the only base runner the Racers would get until the bottom of the sixth inning when with two outs the first overall pick in this year's NPF draft, Kaitlin Cochran, worked a walk against Osterman.
While Osterman was retiring Racer batters, Norris got over her early control issues to pitch a fine game of her own, not allowing Rockford much of anything until they added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning to extend their lead to the final score of 5-0.
Osterman (3-0) picked up the win as she gave up only one walk in seven innings while striking out 10 batters. Norris (1-3) got the loss for Akron as she surrendered five runs, four earned, on seven hits and three walks in seven innings.
The Racers and Thunder will meet for the final time of this series and the season Sunday afternoon at 2:05 PM at Firestone Stadium. For ticket information to this or any other game please contact the Racers ticket office at (330)376-8188.