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Bandits Win Series Over Diamonds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 18, 2010) _ The only thing hotter than the 90-plus degree heat was the duel on the mound between Monica Abbott, from the Tennessee Diamonds, and Jennie Finch, from the Chicago Bandits, in National Pro Fastpitch action.

“It was very entertaining,” Diamonds coach Ernie Reynolds said despite coming out on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision Sunday afternoon. “I don’t know where else you could go in the country and see two athletes like this in their prime compete head-to-head.”

Abbott, who struck out six batters in a row with two in the first, three in the second and one in the third, finished the game with 13 strikeouts. Abbott’s record fell to 5-4, but her earned run average is 0.64. Abbott gave up five hits and walked one batter.

“Monica has a .64 ERA in our league with four losses,” Reynolds said. “She understands she is doing her job and our hitters are working very hard to do their jobs. We are going to give her more run support in the future. It has just been plain old misfortune for Monica.”

Finch, 3-1, struck out 11 on the way to the win, her second in the series. She allowed three hits and walked four.

Stacy May’s two-run homer to left field in the third inning was all the scoring the Bandits would need. Christine Knauer, who had reached base on a throwing error by Diamonds third baseman Shanna Diller, scored on May’s blast.

There were 331 fans at the game, the largest crowd for a daytime game for the Diamonds this season at Draper Diamond on the campus of Lipscomb University.

DeDe Justice, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning with one out, slammed a pitch from Finch over the center field fence for the Diamonds. Saturday night the Diamonds had come from behind to turn an 8-0 deficit into a 9-8 win with six runs in the sixth and three in the seventh.

“We had our opportunities,” Reynolds said. “We have a gritty team. We found our way on the base but we weren’t able to get the right hit at the right time.

“Part of the process is learning how to win. The other part is learning to be perfect every game.”

The Bandits won the series 3-2.

DIAMOND GEMS: It was the first time Abbott had recorded double figures in strikeouts in her last three outings. …Two of the Diamonds three hits were for extra bases with Megan Gibson hitting a double in the fourth inning to go with the home run from Justice, her second of the season. …May’s home run was her seventh of the season to go with 19 runs batted in.