The Akron Racers used home runs Saturday to beat New York-New Jersey for the seventh consecutive time.
Racers designated player Sam Marder hit two home runs and third baseman Brigette Del Ponte ripped a three-run homer asa the Racers dominated the Comets 6-2 in a National Pro Fastpitch game at Firestone Stadium.
“I started off the season really slow and even last year I had kind of a slow start,” said Marder, a former three-time All-American at Ohio State. “It shows how important it is in this league to stay confident and not think about outcomes, but think about having quality at-bats.”
Marder hit .343 with eight home runs a year ago for Akron and was the NPF Offensive Player of the Year.
The Racers (9-13) scored four runs in the bottom of the second against Comets pitcher Katie Cotta (0-1), who was making her professional debut. With one out, Marder cracked a solo home run to left-center field on a 2-2 pitch. Then after Brianna Hesson (3-for-3) singled and Tess Sito reached base, Del Ponte crushed an 0-2 pitch to left and cleared the bases with her third homer of the season to make it 4-0.
“Brigette is coming around and actually played third base in college until her senior year,” said Racers manager Ryan Phillips. “She’s made some phenomenal plays. Her three-run homer getting us going was definitely a big boost.”
Del Ponte is filling in at third for the Racers’ regular third baseman, Kelley Montalvo.
Cotta pitched Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., to the NAIA national title earlier this year, but was roughed up for six earned runs in less than three innings. NAIA opponents had scored three earned runs against Cotta in 150 innings this past season.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to play here,” said Cotta. “Unfortunately, I left a couple of balls in the power zone.”
Marder’s fourth home run of the season came in the third inning and was just inside the left-field foul pole, scoring Taylor Schlopy, who had been hit by pitch. The Racers led 6-0, and that was more than enough run support for former LSU star Brittany Mack (2-1) as she pitched five scoreless innings and gave way to Jen Mineau to close.
“It doesn’t matter what team you face in this league, you’ve got to be careful leaving balls anywhere close to down the middle,” said Mack, the 2012 Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year. “You have to make sure you keep it mixed up.”
The Comets (3-20) left a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings, after being shut out 1-0 and 11-0 in the first two games of the series.
New York-New Jersey scored two in the seventh when Brittney Lindley scored on a wild pitch and shortstop Bianca Mejia’s second hit of the game drove in a run.
Game 2: Racers 9, Comets 0
In the nightcap, the Racers (10-13) made it four consectuive wins overall and eight in a row against New York-New Jersey (3-21).
Del Ponte ripped her third and fourth home runs in the last three games (five for the season) and Schlopy unloaded a three-run blast to back a strong start by rookie pitcher Rachele Fico (2-2). Del Ponte, playing in her first NPF season, hit 59 career home runs for the Arizona Wildcats.
After scoring four runs in the third inning, Akron batted around in the fourth and scored five runs.