ASHLAND, Ohio – The Beijing Eagles used a pinch-hit RBI triple in the sixth inning and capitalized on a throwing error in the top of the seventh to score the go aheago-ahead a 3-2 win over host Cleveland on Wednesday at Brookside Park.
Shellie Robinson’s third-inning homer helped the Comets erase a 1-0 deficit and Sun Xun’s fourth-inning inside the park home run gave Cleveland its first lead of the season, but the Eagles made the key plays down the stretch to pull out their second straight game in Ohio.
“We beat ourselves,” said Cleveland coach Charlotte Morgan. “We had a chance to win and close the door but on the defensive end, that’s our bad, the throw. I told them we’re competing and we’re right there but this one should hurt. We just can’t make mistakes and that’s the biggest thing.”
Beijing took a 1-0 in the top of the first on singles by Li Qi and Victoria Draper and a sacrifice fly by Chen Jia.
Robinson stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the third and hit the first pitch she saw over the fence in left field to tie the game. Sun Xun’s four-base hit in the fourth also came with two down.
“That was huge,” Morgan said of Robinson’s second home run of the season. “Shellie turned hard, especially with these fences. We’ve been practicing our line drives because I didn’t think we could get it over with these long fences but she got it over. I’m happy for Sun Xun. She played a little bit in the league last year and for her to come up and do that was huge. It gave us the momentum on our side. We have to keep having at-bats like that and keep having people come through.”
Cleveland starter Devin Brown struck out the first batter she faced in the sixth then gave up a bunt single to Chen Jia, who is 5-for-6 with two doubles and five runs batted in against the Comets through two games. Lu Ying then hit a pinch hit triple to tie the game at 2-2.
Brown, who allowed two earned runs on seven hits and struck out four in six innings, closed out the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
The Comets had an opportunity to regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Alexa Peterson reached on an error and Jade Rhodes singled to left. Both runners advanced a base on an error.
Angel Bunner relieved Beijing starter Wang Lan and the Eagles turned a double play when Sun Xun flew out to left and Liu Yining gunned down Peterson at the plate. Bunner struck out the next Comet hitter to end the threat.
Xu Jia opened the Beijing seventh with a rocket shot off Rhodes at first base and ended up at second with a double. Yang Huiqi replaced Xu Jia on second and moved to third on a single by Liu Li Li and scored on a failed pickoff attempt.
Rupp struck out the final three Beijing hitters to keep the Comets within striking range but Bunner set the Cleveland hitters down in order to close out the win.
“We’ve done a little better at the plate and we’ve done some good things on defense,” Morgan said. “We just can’t make those mental mistakes back to back and give the other team the momentum when it was on our side.”
Liu Li Li led Beijing with a pair of hits.
Robinson, Sun Xun, Rhodes, Lu Yao, Chloe Miller, and Yuan Huaining Rhodes all had hits for the Comets.
Brown, who threw 55 strikes to just 25 balls, took the loss for the Comets to drop to 0-3 on the year. Rupp struck out three of the four hitters she faced.
“I thought Devin’s performance was huge,” Morgan said. “She did a great job controlling them and mixing speeds and heights. Randi came in and she shut the door. She had three Ks, which is good for her too and her confidence coming into the league and being able to close like that. We just have to play better behind them and once we do that we’ll see the score end up a little bit different.”
Cleveland and Beijing will close out their three-game series at Brookside Park on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.