Akron, Ohio - After struggling to get any offense going in the first two games of the series against Philadelphia(18-17), only getting one run in two games, the Akron Racers bats exploded Friday night. The Racers scored in every inning except the first, culminating in a seven run sixth inning.
Seven different hitters got hits for Akron (19-12) on the night as they sprayed sixteen of them around Firestone Stadium.
The Racers went into that bottom of the sixth inning already possessing a 9-3 lead, but that wasn't enough. The first six batters reached base and scored in the inning. Norrelle Dickson started the inning with her third of four hits, a single to centerfield. Dickson raised her batting average 20 points on the day, launching her into first place in the league. Dickson scored two batters later when Kristen Butler drove a base hit to left centerfield.
Up next for the Racers was Sarah Zilles who pinch ran for Caitlin Benyi and stayed in the game. The at bat was Zilles first of her pro career and she drove an RBI single to centerfield, plating Iyhia McMichael. The hit and RBI were firsts for Zilles.
Another two batters later, Kristin Johnson drove a two RBI single to centerfield, scoring Zilles and Kristen Butler.
To round out the inning Veronica Wootson drove a ball into the left centerfield gap for another two runs and Dickson got her second hit of the inning, an RBI infield single.
In total, the Racers scored seven runs on seven hits and one error in the inning.
The game did not always look so one sided as the Force and Racers exchanged leads through the first three innings.
Philadelphia struck first after second baseman Emily Friedman walked to start the game and was later driven home on a single by Jenna Hall to give the Force a 1-0 lead.
Akron retaliated in the bottom of the second inning after a strike out call was reversed on an illegal pitch to Butler. With new life, Butler made Force starter Stacy Birk regret it as she parked a long ball over the left field fence to tie the game at one. Akron got their first lead of the series when Wootson drove a singled to centerfield with the bases loaded later in the inning. Both Benyi and Jenn Poore came around to score and make the score 3-1.
This would close the book on Birk who went 1.2 innings giving up three runs on three hits and a pair of walks.
The Force came back with a little help from Akron in the top of the third inning. After a lead off single by Sharonda McDonald, Shortstop Chelsea Spencer laid down a sacrifice. First baseman Ianeta Le'i threw the ball away allowing Spencer to reach first base. Catcher Kristen Butler attempted to make an out at second base and threw the ball into centerfield moving McDonald to third. Finally, Iyhia McMichael attempted to throw McDonald out at home and threw the ball away again to score McDonald and land Spencer on third base.
Spoencer tied the game when she scored off a single by Kellie Wilkerson.
The Force repaid the defensive favor in the bottom of the third by committing three errors themselves. With runners on second and third, Benyi laid down a sacrifice bunt, but an error by the first baseman Wilkerson allowed her to reach base and score both runners making the score 5-3 in favor of the Racers. Benyi scored on the next batter as Jenn Poore ripped an RBI base hit.
The Racers never looked back from their 6-3 lead adding a run in the home half of the fourth on a wild pitch by Philadelphia reliever Jodie Cox. They added two more in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Kristin Johnson and an RBI single by Tracee McCoy who drove in Johnson to make the score 9-3. All of those runs were charged to Cox (0-1) who received the loss going three innings in relief giving up six runs, five earned, on six hits and a walk.
Jamee Juarez (11-4) pitched very well for the Racers allowing three runs, only one earned, on five hits and four walks in seven innings pitched, earning her her eleventh victory of the season.
The Racers try to even the series tomorrow afternoon when the two teams meet for the final time at 12:05 P.M. for Mascot Mania Day.
For ticket information please contact the Racers at (330) 376-8188.