Racers win 5-1 behind St. Clair’s bat and Thorson’s armAKRON, Ohio- Roya St. Clair served as Nikki Nemitz’ catcher for four years at the University of Michigan, making it fitting that her first professional home run came off her former Wolverine teammate.
The undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Michigan smashed a home run over the left centerfield fence in the second inning, the first of two hits for St. Clair, Thursday night in a 5-1 victory over the Bandits at Firestone Stadium.
With the victory, the Racers move two games behind the Bandits in the NPF standings.
The blast gave the Racers (11-10) a 2-0 lead that starting pitcher Kristina Thorson (4-2) would protect all evening.
St. Clair and Nemitz have had their battles all season and she finally got the best of Nemitz early in this game.
“I’ve caught for Nikki for four years in college, so I’ve seen her,” St. Clair said. “She’s gotten the best of me before and she left one up in the zone and I was protecting (the plate).”
The Bandits cut the lead in half at 2-1 in the top of the third inning after Megan Wiggins doubled down the left field line, scoring Amanda Williams, who led off the inning by singling to centerfield.
However, Akron gave Thorson a four-run cushion in the bottom of the sixth after two of the first three batters were retired. Nicole Trimboli popped out to the catcher, Sam Marder drew a walk and Montalvo flew out to left field.
St. Clair came through again however, dropping a bloop-single between the short stop and left fielder.
Nicole Pauly, the team-leader with eight RBIs, pinch-hit for Courtney Bures and stroked an RBI double to left centerfield, scoring pinch runner Reba Tutt from second base. Jessica Williams capped off the scoring run with a line drive single, plating St. Clair and Bures to make it 5-1 Racers.
Bures did a fine job in the top of the sixth inning to keep the Racers in front. With Wiggins on second base and one out, Tammy Williams laced a shot up the middle. Bures snagged it for an infield hit that kept Wiggins at third base. The shortstop continued her defensive prowess by catching a rocket line drive off the bat of Nemitz, doubling Williams up at first base.
Thorson went the distance for the second straight start and third time in her last four outings to improve to 4-2 on the season. She allowed a run on six hits, three walks and fanned five to bring her ERA down to 2.37.
“Roya did a great job of mixing different pitches and reading the hitters really well tonight,” Thorson said. “I felt my rise [fastball], my curve and change-up were working from time to time for me as well.”
The complete game marks the second consecutive complete game win for Thorson over the Bandits, her former team, and is her third complete game in the last four outings. Her field manager has been impressed with the former Chicago Bandits pitcher through the first half of the season.
“Kristina’s been great all year, very consistent. She’s been a professional, which is what you expect her to do.”
Schumann was not present at practice this week due to a family emergency, forcing his staff in charge of preparing the team for this weekend’s series.
“This wins goes to those guys,” said Coach Iverson “They worked their tails off and he gets the credit for getting everyone ready tonight.”
The Racers and Bandits will face off at 7:05 Friday night at Firestone Stadium.