Allentown, Pa. - Clare Burnum knocked a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh to score Sharonda McDonald to lift the Philadelphia Force to a 2-1 victory over the New England Riptide. With the win, the Force improved their record to 24-18 which puts them alone in third place in the NPF standings with two games remaining.
Since the top four teams in the standings make next weekends playoffs in Kimberly, Wisconsin, the Force need just one more victory in their last two games to clinch a playoff spot.
Kristina Thorson (14-5) picked up her 14th win on the season. She pitched all seven innings and yielded five hits while striking out five. Eileen Canney (9-6) picked up the loss for the Riptide who dropped to 23-19.
The Force took the lead in the bottom of the third inning. Emily Friedman reached on a hustling double to right center field with one away. Burnum moved Friedman to third with the first of two hits on the night. Trena Peel plated Friedman on a bad-hop singled off the shoulder of Riptide second baseman Carri Leto-Martin to give the Force a 1-0 lead.
In the sixth, the Riptide would get to Thorson. KJ Kelly started the frame with a walk. Shanel Scott would be safe at first and Kelly safe at second after a Force throwing error on a fielders choice attempt. The next batter, Gina Carbonatto, hit into a fielders choice, third baseman to short stop, to keep Riptide runners at first and second. Leto-Martin tied the score by looping a ball just inside the left field line which drove in Scott from second.
The game winning bottom of the seventh started with a McDonald single to left field. Friedman laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to move McDonald to second. At this time, Canney was replaced in the circle by Danielle Henderson. Her first pitch to Burnum was in the dirt and went back to the backstop allowing McDonald to trot to third. Two pitches later, Burnum bounced a ball towards a charging Leto-Martin at second base while McDonald raced for home. The ball bounced up and away from the former Force player and McDonald scored easily for the win in front a vocal crowd of 526.
Peel led the Force offense by going 3-for-3. Burnum along with her two hits on the night, also reached base on a hit by pitch.
Defensively the Force was solid as catcher Ashley Smith nailed two would-be base stealers and the infield turned a double play on a bunt.
Tomorrow night is game three is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with free eye black stickers for the first 300 kids. It is the second to last game of the regular season.