Allentown, Pa.- Emily Friedman, who had her teeth jarred on a foul ball earlier in the game, singled home two runs in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Philadelphia Force took game one of the four game series by a score of 3-2.
The Force (28-17) had chances to open the scoring in both the second and third innings. In the second, the Force loaded the bases off of Angela Tincher with one-out, but the rookie retired the last two batters in the inning on strikes. Then in the bottom of the third, the Force would have a runner thrown out at the plate. Sharonda McDonald, who was in the lead-off spot,reached on an infield single, and moved to second base when the throw to get her at first sailed by the first baseman. The Force looked to have their first run when Friedman, who was moved up to second in the batting order, singled a hard shot to centerfield, but the quick McDonald was put out at the plate on a great throw from Racers centerfielder Kim Hamilton.
But it would be the Racers (19-26) who would break through first. Norelle Dickson started the fourth inning by reaching on a hit-by-pitch. One out later, Dickson scored from first on a double to right center off of the bat of Susan Ogden. Ogden then moved over to third base on a fly out to right field. She would be stranded there when Katie Burkhart got Shannon Doepking to pop out to Chelsea Spencer at short stop.
The Force, who have already punched their ticket to the NPF playoffs in Kimberly, Wisconsin, got to Tincher in fifth inning. McDonald started off her second inning of the game with an infield single. And for the second time in a row, Friedman singled and this time McDonald moved up to third base. So with Force runners on first and third with nobody out, Friedman swiped second base without a throw. Tincher then got Trena Peel on strikes. But Spencer would get the game tied when she lofted a fly ball to medium left field that was deep enough to score McDonald. For Spencer it was RBI number 24 on the year.
The standard seven innings was not enough to provide a winner, so the teams entered extra innings. For the Force, it marked their eighth game to beyond seven innings.
Actually nine innings was not enough. So on to the 10th inning, and enter everyone’s friend, the International Tie Breaker rule. The Force got a Racer runner out at home to prevent Akron from scoring in the top of the tenth.
In the bottom of the 10th, Peel was placed on second. Spencer was intentionally walked to start the inning. Savannah Long successfully moved both runners with a bunt. Tincher then got Stacy Birk on strikes, and then issued her second intentional walked of the inning to load the bases. But Tincher got Kristen Miller on a comebacker to end the 10th.
In the 11th, the Racers started with Angelina Mexicano. Kim Hamilton bunted and the Force tried to get the runner at 3rd but the throw was late. After a strikeout, Burkhart throw a pitch out of the reach of Miller and Mexicano scored the second Akron run. Hamilton was retired on the play trying to go to 3rd.Burkhart finished the inning by getting Veronica Wootson to fly out.
The bottom of the 11th would see the Force pinch run Michelle Tatlock for the schedule runner Miller at second base. Amy Hudson popped up her bunt attempt, but Sharonda McDonald singled for the third time in the game to put runners on first and third. With the rain beginning to fall at the stadium, Friedman sent the fans home happy with a walk-off single to score Tatlock and McDonald.
Five minutes later, the field looked more suitable for Michael Phelps to compete in rather than have a softball game, and the press box internet was down.
With the win, the Force are 1 ½ games behind the Washington Glory for first place and ½ game behind the Chicago Bandits for second place. The Force have three games remaining while the other two teams each have four left. For the Racers, they drop a ½ game behind the idle New England Riptide for the final playoff spot.
Overall, McDonald and Friedman each had three hits on the day.McDonald scored two runs and Friedman had two RBI’s.
Burkhart (12-5) went the distance for the Force, pitching all eleven innings.She struck out seven batters and only gave up four hits on the night.
Tincher (12-9) took the disappointing loss for the Racers.In 10.1 innings of work, Tincher struck out 14 batters and gave up seven hits.
Akron and Philadelphia meet up again Thursday night at . The game will mark their third to last game of the regular season and the last chance for fans to pick up hot dogs for just $1. Free Majestic NPF replica T-shirts will be given away to the first 300 fans entering the gate at ECTB Stadium