It was a game that would have made Ernie Banks proud.
The former Chicago Cubs star was famous for saying “Let’s play two.”
Well, the Pennsylvania Rebellion and Chicago Bandits did that and more Saturday afternoon at Consol Energy Park.
The two teams played a 17-inning game and the outcome was not assured until Breezy Hamilton’s long fly to right was caught at the fence with two runners on and two outs.
The Chicago Bandits had a 10-7 victory in the longest National Pro Fastpitch softball league game of the season and the first extra-inning game at Consol Energy Park for the Rebellion.
Megan Wiggins hit a two-run home run far over the temporary right field fence and the ball did not stop until hitting the main outfield wall, 375 feet from home plate. The Bandits added another run on an error.
“It was crazy,” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice. “I did play in a game that went 21 innings back in high school.”
The four-hour, 40-minute game pushed the starting time of the game between the Washington Wild Things and Traverse City Beach Bums back 90 minutes to an 8:30 p.m. start. It was supposed to be a softball-baseball doubleheader at Consol and the 2 p.m. start for the Rebellion was thought to be more than enough for the approximately 90 minutes required to convert the field so that baseball can be played.
The softball game featured plays that were magnificent and maddening.
The Rebellion had three outstanding scoring opportunities erased when the Bandits turned inning-ending double plays. Two were on great defensive plays and one was on a botched running play by the Rebellion.
“We had so many opportunities,” Rice said. “We missed some crucial bunts. And we were both bothered by umpire calls.”
The best defensive play of the night, and maybe the season, came in the bottom of the 11th when Brittney Lindley lined a ball ticketed for the right field corner. But Brittany Cervantes made a diving stop at the bag and turned it into a double play by catching Hamilton off the bag.
In the 13th, the same thing happened but at the third base bag. Amber Patton caught a soft liner and tagged out Andy Varsho.
Bandits’ manager Shane Winkler was ejected for arguing a call in the bottom of the 13th inning. Assistant coach Roman Foore managed the rest of the way. He was upset over what he felt was a missed call on the Rebellion’s Kourtney Salvarola in a rundown.
“I thought she was tagged,” Winkler said. “If not, then I thought she was out of the baseline.”
Both teams used 19 players but the Bandits used its entire pitching staff, including staff ace Monica Abbott, who was not supposed to pitch. The Bandits scored a run in the 12th, 14th and 15th innings only to be matched by the Rebellion each time.
The game used the International Tiebreaker from the 10th inning on after the seventh inning ended in a 4-4 tie. The International Tiebreaker requires each inning after the ninth to begin with a runner on second base and no outs.
Sarah Pauly entered the game with one out in the seventh inning and ended up throwing 9 2/3 innings. She allowed six runs, five earned, and was the tough-luck loser. Wiggins home run made Abbott the winner.
“I had 10 at-bats so it was about time,” said Wiggins, who has five home runs from the leadoff spot. “I was trying to see the ball and hit it.”
Actually, Wiggins went 1-for-6 and had three RBI. Danielle Zymkowitz went 2-for-7, scored twice and drove in two and Emily Allard went 2-for-7 and scored three times.
B.B. Bates got a rare start and responded with a great game. She went 3-for-5, drove in two and scored twice. She hit a solo home run in the third inning, her first of the season, to give the Rebellion a 4-0 lead.
But the Bandits knocked off starter Bryana Walker with three runs in the third and tied the game in the fourth when Zymkowitz doubled in Allard.