One pitch, slightly off the mark, made all the difference Thursday night for the Pennsylvania Rebellion.
Dallas Escobedo’s curve ball slipped too far over the plate and Megan Wiggins deposited it over the left field fence for a three-run home run in the third inning. That was really all the Chicago Bandits needed to go on to a 5-3 victory in front of 1,351 fans at Consol Energy Park.
It was the first loss under new manager Stacey Rice, who took over in time for a 2-1 win over the Bandits Wednesday after Rick Bertagnolli resigned.
“It’s way more fun to win these games,” said Rice. “But this was a fun game to be a part of.”
The Rebellion now enter an eight-day layoff with a 3-11 record. The win moved the Bandits to 8-6.
Wiggins’ three-run home run and a solo blast by Kristen Butler in the second inning staked the Bandits to a 4-0 lead. The most runs the Rebellion have scored in a game this season is six.
“Part of me thought it was gone,” said Wiggins, “but part of me didn’t think it was gone. It’s hard to tell with the fences here. That’s why I sprinted around the bases.”
This two-game series was a sort of homecoming for Shane Winkler. The manager of the Bandits was making his first return trip to Consol Energy Park since playing for the Wild Things in the 2006 season.
“This place is just beautiful,” said Winkler. “We play on turf at our place, and the bounces are a little different. It was nice to come back here.”
Winkler used six pitchers in the game, even bringing in Monica Abbott to unleash a 73 mph fastball to strike out Taylor Edwards to end the game.
“It’s hard to keep those kind of leads,” Winkler said. “The (Rebellion) lineup is so good. They’ll keep grinding it out. That’s why we used six pitchers.”
The Rebellion did rally, scoring one run in the bottom of the third and two more in the sixth. Brittney Lindley got the run in the third when she hit a solo home run over the left field fence off Bandits starter Andrea Williamson for the Rebellion’s first home run at Consol Energy Park.
“I didn’t realize that,” said Lindley. “She’s a drop-ball pitcher, and she left it up. The best swings you make are the easiest. I knew I hit it solid.”
The Rebellion made it a two-run game in the sixth. Briana Hamilton knocked in a run with a single to left field and Samantha Garcia followed with an RBI-single, also to left field. But Winkler brought in Kirsten Verdun and she got Lauren Lappin to hit a weak grounder to first base to end the inning.
The Rebellion got a runner to second base with two outs in the seventh when Courtney Liddle singled and moved up on a wild pitch. But Abbott ended the issue.
“I’m going to give the girls a little time off, then we’ll be back at it on Tuesday,” said Rice. “We need to work together … and try to generate some more runs.”