by Jason Hanes
Texas Bombers Gold used a four-run fifth inning to take control as they defeated PA Strikers National-Mizuno, 5-2, to advance to Championship Bracket play in the 14 Open division of the Triple Crown-USA Nationals in Cumming, Ga.
The Strikers struck first as a double to left-center by Briana Peck scored a runner from second to make it 1-0. The Bombers mounted a threat in the bottom of the third thanks to a pair of singles, but Strikers starter Acelynn Sellers won a nine pitch at-bat with a strikeout, then got a line out to second to end the Bombers' threat.
The Bombers started some two-out trouble in the fourth as Delanie Loya singled to left. After seeing eight pitches, Emma Humplik served the ninth pitch into the gap in left-center, with her double scoring Loya to tie the game at 1-1.
In the fifth, the Bombers used their speed at the start of the inning to create pressure as Mihyia Davis, Isa Torres, and Kramer Eschete each laid down bunt singles to load the bases. Kelsie Kelso then blooped a single to shallow center to plate Davis with the go-ahead run. After a wild pitch scored Torries and moved the other runners up 60-feet, a pitching change ended Sellers' day in the circle. While Peck would quickly record two outs in relief, a two-run single by Loya would plate the two runners and give the Bombers a 5-1 lead.
"We've depended on the long ball so much the past couple of days, but they played us so far back that we had to tell our kids to shorten up at the plate," said Bombers coach Jessica Rogers. "Our slappers came up big, and once we got them on, we just needed one big hit to get them over."
"It was really important for me to get on base," said Davis of her leadoff single. "I know we've got big hitters behind me, so I know my job is to get on base so they can get me in."
In the seventh, the Strikers wouldn't go quietly as a single by Twaddell and a double by Smith put two runners in scoring position with one out. Morgan Farthing's grounder to short was kicked, but a quick recovery allowed for a tag of the runner at second for the second out with a run scoring. One batter later, Miles would get a ground out to end the game and give the Bombers the win.
The win moves the Texas Bombers into the Championship Bracket against PA Chaos National-Harvey Thursday morning at 8 a.m. at Central Park in Cumming.