Bandits Comeback and Defend in Doubleheader Sweep
The Bandits showed there are multiple ways to win ball games, coming from behind in the seventh inning in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, then holding off the Canadian Wild in the nightcap behind stellar work from the bullpen. They come home from Marion, Illinois having taken three of four games in the series and improved to 8-3 on the season. The Wild, who entered the weekend in first place, fell to 13-6.
Game One: Bandits 8, Wild 4
After being shut out for the first six innings, the Bandits showed they don’t know how to quit with an offensive explosion in the seventh.
Trailing by four entering the final frame, the Bandits sent 12 batters to the plate, eight of whom crossed home, to claim an improbable victory.
The Bandits, who had wasted scoring chances in the second and third innings, made sure they would not come away similarly disappointed this time. With the bases loaded and one out, Abbey Cheek lined a single into right to score two runs and cut the deficit in half.
The Wild then made a pitching change, but that did nothing to stop the Bandits’ momentum. Following a wild pitch, Nadia Taylor doubled in another run to tie the game, and then pinch-hitter Courtney Gano singled up the middle to give the Bandits the lead. The Bandits added three more in the inning to double up the Wild.
It was the second instance this season where the Bandits earned a win after trailing by three or more runs after six innings. They scored three in the seventh and one in the tenth to beat the Cleveland Comets 9-8 on June 8.
“We have a lot of grit,” Cheek said. “We just need to keep focusing on when we have runners in scoring position, just getting quality at-bats. Once we do that, we’re going to be really good.”
The unsung hero for the Bandits was Haylie Wagner, who relieved Danielle O’Toole in the fourth and shut down the Wild the rest of the game. O’Toole allowed four runs in the first three innings, but Wagner came in and gave up just two hits and no walks. When the Bandits rallied in the seventh, Wagner was able to earn the win.
Game Two: Bandits 5, Wild 4
This time it was the Bandits who jumped out to an early lead, scoring a run in the first, another in the second and three in the third. The Bandits once again got an outstanding effort from the bullpen, preventing the Wild from completing the comeback.
Hannah Flippen gave the Bandits the lead right from the start, leading off the game with a triple and scoring on a throwing error. Emily Crane hit her second home run of the series an inning later to double the team’s advantage.
With one out in the third, Flippen hit her second triple of the game, and a Brenna Moss single drove her in. Cheek then launched a monstrous blast that just stayed fair over the left-field fence for a two-run homer, and all of a sudden the Bandits led by five.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had two triples in a game,” Flippen said. “This is a big ballpark, so it was fun to run around today. We talk about running hard no matter where the ball is hit. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Sara Groenewegen entered in relief for the Wild and shut down the Bandits from there, and the Wild pulled within one in the bottom of the third on a grand slam by Jennifer Gilbert. Savannah Heebner, Aleshia Ocasio and Wagner combined to hold the Wild scoreless after that.
The Wild’s biggest threat came in the fourth against Heebner. They loaded the bases with one out, but Heebner got a force out at home and a grounder to third. Ocasio got through the fifth and sixth without much trouble, and Wagner tossed a perfect seventh for the save.
“The Wild are a good team and they have a good pitching staff,” Flippen said. “We just had to scratch a few runs and thankfully our pitchers kept us in both games.”
The Bandits will be back in action Friday, June 28 as they welcome these same Canadian Wild to Rosemont for the opener of a five-game series. First pitch will be at 7:35 p.m. CT.