DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 17, 2018) – The Cleveland Comets knocked off the Beijing Eagles by a score of 5-4 on Sunday night in Daytona Beach, clinching the six-game series for the Comets, four games to two. The win also extends Cleveland’s winning streak to three games, improving its season mark to 4-11, while Beijing falls to 11-11.
Both starting pitchers were very effective through the early innings, with neither side able to push a run across until the bottom of the third. Liu Li Li led off the inning with a bunt single and came around to score two batters later when Victoria Draper launched a double over the head of left fielder Dong ZiXuan. Draper later scored on a fielder’s choice to increase the Eagle lead to 2-0.
The Eagles tacked on another run in the fourth when a Li Li grounder got past Jade Rhodes, allowing Ren Min to score to make it a 3-0 game.
Cleveland finally got its offense going in the fifth, when Chloe Miller and Jiang Xinyue each picked up singles ahead of Shellie Robinson, who launched a three-run homer just inside the foul pole down the left-field line to knot things up at 3-3.
Beijing wasted no time retaking the lead as Draper showcased her speed in the bottom of the fifth, scoring from second base on an infield single by Xi Kailin to put the Eagles back in front, 4-3.
The Comets quickly answered back when Rhodes crossed the plate on a wild pitch from Emily Watson, who came on in relief to start the sixth inning. Watson settled down to record the final two outs of the inning to strand runners at second and third, keeping the game tied at four.
Cleveland took its first and only lead of the game in the top of the seventh thanks to a one-out triple off the bat of Xie Yue, scoring Yuan Huaining with the go-ahead run, putting the Comets ahead, 5-4.
Randi Rupp, who entered the game in the fifth inning, closed the door with a perfect seventh inning, cementing the 5-4 victory for Cleveland.
Robinson finished 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs, while Yue was 1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI, earning Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game honors. Rhodes, Miller, Xinyue, and Huaining each tallied a hit and a run scored for Cleveland.
Rupp (1-4) earned the win with 2.2 perfect innings out of the bullpen, giving up no hits and no walks while striking out two. Gretchen Aucoin started for Cleveland, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits with three strikeouts in four innings of work.
Draper went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Min was 2-for-2 with a run scored and Kailin was 1-for-4 with two RBIs.
Angel Bunner started for the Eagles, going the first five innings, allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Watson gave up a run on two hits in one inning of relief, walking one and striking out one. Allie Walljasper (2-2) was tagged with the loss, allowing a run on two hits in one inning of work, walking two (both intentional) and striking out a pair.
The Comets will be back in action tomorrow night at 7 p.m. EDT when they open up a three-game series at the USSSA Pride in Viera at USSSA Space Coast Stadium. The Eagles will travel to Mankato, Minnesota, where they will host the Chicago Bandits in the first of six games at Caswell Park on Tuesday, June 19 at 7 p.m. CDT (8 p.m. EDT).
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2004 provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Aussie Spirit, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2018 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.