Olympic gold medal winner Jennie Finch pitched a three-hit shutout and added an RBI single to lead the Chicago Bandits to a 2-0 win over the Akron Racers Friday evening at Firestone Stadium.
Finch halted the Racers win streak at 17 games and vaulted the Bandits into a tie for first place in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) standings with Akron, both teams at 19-2.
The game was delayed 45 minutes when the Bandits flight to Cleveland was late, but that did not dim the enthusiasm of the 1,876 fans in attendance.
Bandit third baseman Vicky Galindo led off the top of the first inning with a single to left off Akron starter Jamie Southern. Second baseman Anne Steffan then dropped a bunt single. With one out, Finch hit a seeing-eye single through the middle to score Galindo from second base.
After Finch retired six batters in a row, Akron threatened in the bottom of the third. Left fielder Kelly Kretschman, also a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic championship team, doubled to start the inning. First baseman Oli Keohohou then singled Kretschman to third and advanced to second on the throw.
But Finch worked out of the jam, retiring Hilary Puglia, Iyhia McMichael and Kristin Johnson in succession, leaving Kretschman and Keohohou stranded.
Chicago turned double plays in the fourth and fifth innings to keep Akron off the board. In the fifth, after Trimboli reached on an infield single, Kretschman hit a slow roller to short. The throw to retire Trimboli at second was late and the Racers were threatening again.
Keohohou followed with a line shot which shortstop Jaime Clark snared and flipped to Steffan to double up Trimboli. Puglia grounded out to end the inning.
Chicago plated an insurance run in the sixth when Clark doubled and scored on a fielders choice. Akron catcher Jenny Topping attempted to make a swipe tag as Clark beat the throw and Topping could not hold on.
Southern (3-1) took the loss and fanned six and walked two. Her string of 18 innings without allowing an earned run was snapped in the first frame. Akron came into the contest averaging eight runs per game, but could not muster a run against Finch.
Akron and Chicago tangle again Saturday, a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1:05 ET.
Contact: Jeff Brewer (330-376-8188)
Photo credit: Steve Foster