Home runs power Bandits over Rebellion

August 11, 2014

Megan Wiggins stole the show Monday night.

Wiggins, the center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Chicago Bandits, cracked back-to-back home runs and drove in four runs to spark a 9-0 victory over the Rebellion in front of 1,026 fans at Consol Energy Park.

The game was televised by CBS Sports Network. Tonight’s 7 p.m. start also will be televised.

Wiggins now has seven home runs and has homered in three consecutive at bats in this series. Wiggins hit a two-run blast in the 17th inning of Saturday’s 10-7 victory. She sent a rocket over the right-center field fence to lead off the game, then blasted a three-run shot off Rebellion starter Dallas Escobedo in the second to make it 4-0.

“She is a Rebellion killer,” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice.

On her third at bat in this game, reliever Angel Bunner kept her distance, walking Wiggins on five pitches in the fourth inning.

The three home runs raised her total to seven this season and pushed her RBI total to seven in this series, the last one of the season at CEP for the Rebellion.

“I had two in a row a couple of times,” said Wiggins. “I just try to see the ball and take good cuts. Sometimes you miss, sometimes you don’t. I just look for a pitch I can hit good and be aggressive.”

Wiggins got on base all four at bats before being pinch hit for in the seventh. Besides the home runs and walk, Wiggins got on via a fielder’s choice in the sixth.

“I love hitting leadoff,” she said. “It sets the tone for the game. It puts pressure on the defense, and it puts pressure on the pitcher.”

Brittany Cervantes extended the Bandits lead to 5-0 with her league-leading 12th home run of the season. That ended the night for Escobedo, the No. 1 pick in the National Pro Fastpitch softball draft this spring.

Escobedo went 2 2/3 innings, giving up five earned runs, four hits, walked three and struck out one. Escobedo came into the game with a 1-9 record and a 5.53 ERA.

“She is not hurt,” Rice said when asked. “She has the tools, and she has the talent. She just has to perfect it a little bit.”

Rice said Escobedo might be tipping her pitchers at times.

“She isn’t throwing the change the same way,” she said. “She is just a little inconsistent. Right now, she is doubting herself a little bit, but we’re not giving up on her.”

Escobedo’s counterpart, Monica Abbott, breezed through the Rebellion lineup registering the shutout. She struck out nine, three shy of her season best, and walked two. She allowed only two hits, both by second baseman Lauren Lappin.

This win was in contrast to Abbott’s last start against the Rebellion. On her birthday, Abbott gave up a two-run home run to Taylor Edwards in that July 28 game that ended in a 3-1 Rebellion victory.

The celebration would not be ruined last night for Abbott or the Bandits.

Cheyenne Coyle took Bunner deep for a two-run home run in the fifth inning to extend the Bandits’ lead to 7-0 and Kristen Butler doubled in a run in the sixth inning to make it 8-0. Third baseman Amber Patton drove in a run in the seventh.

Shortstop Tammy Williams and second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz each had two hits for the Bandits.

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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