Despite a vigorous come back by the hometown Heat, the Chicago Bandits held on to win their 12th game of the year by a score of 7-6.
The Arizona Heat quickly fell behind 6-0, before the bats got started. The Heat cut the lead to 6-5, before Jennie Finchs homerun in the top of the seventh provided some breathing room. Lauren Bay kept the Heat down for five innings, and the Bandits relief was just enough to hold the lead for a 7-6 win.
The Bandits bats got going early off Heat pitcher Erica Beach, plating six runs in the first three innings. Jennifer Spediacci relieved Beach after the third, and gave up on one hit, the homerun to Finch. Spediacci, making her first appearance with the Heat, struck out five of the first six batters she faced, and kept the Heat in the game with her four innings of work. Lauren Bay went five strong innings giving up only three runs while striking out six to pick up her sixth win of the season. Beach fell to three and four with the loss.
Jaime Clark did not waste anytime giving the Bandits the lead. After Beach retired the first two hitters of the game, Clark took the first pitch and hit a towering home run to right field. The top of the second was much of the same for the Heat pitcher. Beach retired the first two hitters before Anne Steffan singled to left field, and Vicky Galindo followed with a triple off the center field wall to plate the second run of the game.
With the Heat bats still silent, the Bandits were back at it in the top of the third. Jaime Clark led off with a walk and Jennie Finch followed with a single. The next hitter, recent Bandit signee, Mackenzie Vandergeest walked, before Beach got Gina Oaks to ground into a fielders choice. With the bases still loaded, Thursday nights hero Selena Collins singled in two runs to stretch the lead to 4-0. Anne Steffan and Vicky Galindo both followed with singles and the Bandits led 6-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Heat bats got going. Nichole Thompson and Jessica Mendoza drew back-to-back walks to lead off the inning and Jackie Coburn laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second and third. Tairia Flowers doubled to left center, driving in both runs and closing the lead to 6-2. Bay got the next two batters without any trouble. Spediacci and Bay got through the fifth without a problem and the game went into the sixth still 6-2.
Jackie Coburn led off the sixth with a hit, before Bay was pulled in favor of Oaks. The pitching change seemed to ignite the Heat as their bats got going. After retiring the first batter she faced, Oaks walked Lovie Jung. With two runners on, Toni Mascarenas stepped in and gave Oaks all she could handle. After falling behind 0-2, Mascarenas fouled off pitch after pitch. On the twelfth pitch of the at-bat, she sent the 13th over
the left field wall to pull the Heat within a run, 6-5.
In the top of the seventh, Spediacci gave up her only hit of the game as Jennie Finch took her deep to push the lead to 7-5. The Heat came to bat in the seventh, needing two runs to tie. Jessica Mendoza led off the inning with a homerun to right field, and just like that, the lead was cut in half. The Bandits went to the pen again, this time bringing in Lindsay
Couinard, who successfully closed out the game to earn her second save of the year.
Vicky Galindo, Jennie Finch and Anne Steffan led the Bandits offense, each getting a pair of hits and driving in at least one run. For the Heat, Jessica Mendoza hit her team leading third homerun and extended her team-high hitting streak to seven games. Toni Mascarenas had a homerun and three RBI, pushing her team lead to 12.
The Heat and Bandits will play the third game of the series Saturday night at 7:30 PM PT at Hi Corbett Field. For live audio of the game visit ArizonaProFastpitch.com