Akron, Ohio - Denso Japan evened up the series at one game a piece against the Akron Racers, but they needed three hours and three extra innings to defeat the Racers 4-3.
Beginning in the tenth inning, the NPF uses the international tie-breaker rule. The rule stipulates that the player who recorded the last out in the previous inning begins the next inning on second base.
For Denso that was lead off hitter, Yuri Masuyama. After a sacrifice moved Masuyama to third with one out Japan took advantage of the rule. With runners on the corners, Miyuki Azuma singled to left field scoring Masuyama to make the score 4-3.
Akron would attempt to capitalize on the free runner in the bottom of the tenth pinch running April Valdez for designated player Jenn Poore. Valdez was sacrificed to third on a bunt by first baseman Ianeta Le'i. However, shortstop Kristin Johnson hit a chopper towards third that was fielded nicely behind Valdez by Minako Tanaka. Valdez strayed too far off of third and was caught in a rundown for the second out of the inning.
The base running mistake and not capitalizing on opportunities was a common theme as the Racers had four runners thrown out off of third base. Compounding the problem, Akron left twelve runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded three times.
However, things were going Akron's way early. The Racers had their first six batters reach base in the home half of the first. With runners on first and second and one out, clean-up hitter Kristen Butler laced a single back up the middle that scored Norelle Dickson. The next batter, Kellie Middleton, laid down a bunt single that scored Iyhia McMichael from third. That would be all the damage the Racers could do leaving the bases loaded.
Two innings later the Racers extended their lead to 3-0 when Middleton lasered a hoime run to left field.
Denso's big break came down 3-0 in the top of the fifth inning with runners on first and second, Kazue Itoh smashed a ball to right field that went just over a running Tracee McCoy. The hit rolled back towards the infield and allowed Itoh to go around for a triple scoring both Mayuko Matuo and Masuyama. Itoh scored when the next batter, Miyuki Azuma singled to centerfield, tying the game at three.
That is how the score would stay until Masuyama's run in the tenth inning.
Jamee Juarez (7-4) gets the tough loss for the Racers. The pitcher threw all ten innings allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits and three walks while striking out ten.
For Denso, Risa Uno picks up the win going six innings of relief, shutting out the Racers on four hits and four walks.
The Racers and Denso Japan meet for round three of their four game series tomorrow night at 7:05 P.M.
For ticket information contact the Akron Racers at (330) 376-8188.