USA defeats Pacific 4-0
FULLERTON, CA – Dominant pitching performances by two-time Olympic gold medallist Lori Harrigan (Las Vegas, NV) and Jennie Finch (La Mirada, CA) propelled the U.S. to a 4-0 win over No. 13 Pacific tonight on the eve of the opening of the KIA Classic. Harrigan and Finch combined to no-hit the Tigers in seven complete innings.
Despite collecting four hits through the first three innings, the U.S. stranded seven runners on base and was unable to score until the bottom of the fourth. Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, CA) drove the first pitch over the right field fence to lead off the inning and give the Red, White and Blue a 1-0 lead. Back-to-back singles by Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA) and Leah O’Brien-Amico (Chino Hills, CA) put runners at first and third for Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, CA) who sent a sacrifice fly to right field to score Watley for the final run of the inning.
“One of the obvious things is the fact that we left a lot of runners on base tonight but overall we had some opportunities but hit balls hard right at people,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “It’s kind of good to play a game that doesn’t end in five innings and we need that if we are going to get better.”
After being shutout in the fifth, the U.S. put up two more insurance runs in the sixth for a 4-0 lead. Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, CA) singled and Nicole Giordano (Saugus, CA), pinch-running for Berg, move to second on a single by Watley. A double by O’Brien-Amico, which just missed clearing the right field fence, scored Giordano and a sacrifice fly by Tairia Mims Flowers plated the final run of the game.
Harrigan, who hadn’t taken the circle in 10 days, improved to 5-0 after allowing no hits and fanning eight of the 16 batters she faced. Finch kept the no-hitter intact after walking one and fanning five of the eight she faced.
“It was nice to get back in the circle tonight after having the last week off,” said Harrigan. “I was able to mix up my pitches and keep their hitters off balance. I was pleased with my outing.”
O’Brien-Amico was the leader at the plate tonight going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Watley, Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Beach, FL) and Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, CA) each collected two hits on the night. Bustos extended her hitting streak to 20 straight games after collecting a single in the first inning.
On the 2004 ‘Aiming for Athens’ tour the USA has outscored opponents 191-8 and has crushed 39 home runs in just 20 games. With the win, the U.S. extends its pre-Olympic tour win streak to 135 games.
The U.S. will open action at the KIA Classic on Wednesday, when they play tournament host Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m.