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Lasers Top Brakettes for Aunt Rosie's Crown

July 5 - The Stratford Brakettes lost a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning of the Aunt Rosie's Invitational Championship Game on Sunday, as the Ohio Lady Lasers rallied late for two runs to capture the title. The Brakettes' 2-1 defeat followed a pair of decisive Sunday wins over the NY Diamond Girls, 6-2, and the New York Avalanche, 10-4, to reach the championship.

Brandice Balschmiter (5-1) and Laser starter Faith Howard battled in a classic pitcher's duel that saw both teams remain scoreless until the last inning. Balschmiter struck out eight batters in the loss, her first of the season. Howard fanned nine Brakettes en route to the title.

Nicole Williams earned the win over the NY Diamond Girls in the first game of the day for the Brakettes, improving to 4-1 on the season. She struck out six in the quarterfinal, which ended after six innings due to time limit.

Stratford went up on the Diamond Girls 2-0 in the second inning, after Casey Harding and Noel Lent reached on a pair of walks. Courtney Cashman singled to right to send Harding home, and Lent also raced across the plate after the ball was mishandled in right field.

The Diamond Girls pulled within 2-1 in the top of the third, as Jessica Bierzans led off with a triple to left-center. Erin Huffard delivered an RBI single to bring Bierzans home for the run.

The Brakettes got the run back in the home third, when Hannah Cooper reached on an error and was run for by Gabby Laccona, who stole second. Laccona advanced to third on a wild pitch, and watched as Val Suto walked. Brittany Younan reached on a fielder's choice, and a bases-loaded walk by Denise Denis pushed the third run home.

Suto set the table for the Brakettes in the bottom of the sixth, reaching on a single and stealing second. Younan tripled to the left-field corner to score Suto, stretching the lead to 4-1. Denis followed with a triple of her own, sending Younan across for a 5-1 advantage. Jolie Duffner delivered the Brakettes' fourth straight hit to plate Denis, giving Stratford a 6-1 lead.

The Diamond Girls scored one in the top of the sixth, when Jerri Ann Orfano doubled to the fence in left. A double to right by Moriah Harris drove in the run and rounded out the scoring at 6-2. The game was called after the stanza due to the time limit, and the Brakettes advanced on to the semis with the win.

Abby Abramson struck out 10 in the semifinal matchup with the Avalanche to earn her first win with the Brakettes. She also had two hits, including a bases-clearing double, and drove in four runs in the game.

The Brakettes jumped out to a big lead in the semis, scoring six runs against the Avalanche in the bottom of the first.

Suto started the rally with a single and moved up on a bunt by Younan. Denis pushed Suto to third with a single, giving the Brakettes runners at the corners. Denis stole second and Duffner walked, loading the bases for Pitney.

A wild pitch sent Suto home with the first run, and moved the other runners up a base apiece. Pitney worked a walk of her own, and again loaded the bases with one out.

Abramson crushed a double to left-center to empty the base paths, giving Stratford a commanding 4-0 lead. Casey Harding pinch ran for Abramson and scored on a single by Noel Lent to stretch the lead to 5-0. Courtney Cashman moved Lent to third on a single, again putting runners at the corners. Gabby Laccona closed out the first-inning scoring with a sac fly to plate Lent, ending the frame with a 6-0 Brakette lead.

Denis added to the margin in the second, when she belted her second long ball of the year. The two-run shot pushed the lead to 8-0.

Lent helped put another run together in the third, picking up a walk with one out. Cashman pushed her to second with a base hit. Laccona was hit by a pitch in the helmet, which loaded the bases. Laccona would come out of the game out of caution, as Harding came on as a pinch-runner. Megan Hodgdon grounded into a 6-5 fielder's choice, but Lent raced home to make it a 9-0 game.

Niki Sabuda singled in the fourth for the Avalanche, and Jenn Hare launched a two-run homer to pull New York within 9-2. However, the Brakettes took one run back in the bottom of the inning.

Denis came up first and doubled, then moved to third on a one-out single by Pitney. Abramson came through with another hit, scoring Denis to make it 10-2.

Danna Hey reached on a single in the fifth for the Avalanche and scored on a double by Michelle Fridey, pulling New York within 10-3.

The Avalanche scratched one more run in the sixth, when Danielle Frye doubled with two outs and scored on a single by Theresa Fleck. The tally rounded out the scoring at 10-4.

Balschmiter and Howard traded strikeouts and scoreless innings in the championship game until the top of the seventh inning, when the Brakettes finally broke the stalemate.

Duffner walked to start the frame off, and was sacrificed over on a bunt by Lauren Pitney. Abramson followed with an RBI double to score Duffner, giving the Brakettes the 1-0 edge.

Needing three outs to clinch the title, the Brakettes took to the field in the bottom of the seventh. The Lady Lasers were well prepared for the last inning, as they brought 1-2-3 in their lineup to the plate.

Meg Otte led off and worked a walk, and headed to second on a sac bunt by Nikki Saiber. Emily Kepple came up third and doubled Otte home to tie up the score at 1-1. Otte moved to third on a groundout, which was the first out of the frame. Cait Gombone came through for the Lasers with Otte at third, and drove in the championship winning run with a single to left.

The Brakettes will return to action on Thursday night at DeLuca Hall of Fame Field in Stratford, CT, with a 7:00 doubleheader against Team Connecticut.

All 2017 Brakettes games are live video webcast at brakettes.com.

Rosie's Invitational Tournament, Amherst, NY
Championship Game
4:30 PM - Sunday, July 2nd
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
BRAKETTES  0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 1
LADY LASERS  0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 1
Batteries: Lasers- Faith Howard (W) and Emily Kepple; Brakettes- Brandice Balschmiter (L, 5-1) and Hannah Cooper

Rosie's Invitational Tournament, Amherst, NY
Single Elimination Semifinal
2:30 PM - Sunday, July 2nd
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
AVALANCHE   0 0 0 2 1 1 0 4 7 0
BRAKETTES 6 2 1 1 0 0 x 10 14 1
Batteries: Avalanche- Sarah McMahon (L), Niki Sabuda (1), McMahon (2), Weaver (3) and Michelle Fridey; Brakettes- Abby Abramson (W, 1-0) and Megan Hodgdon
Homerun: Avalanche- Jenn Hare; Brakettes- Denise Denis (2)

Rosie's Invitational Tournament, Amherst, NY
Single Elimination Bracket Play
10:30 AM - Sunday, July 2nd
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
DIAMOND GIRLS  0 0 1 0 0 1 2 2 3
BRAKETTES 0 2 1 0 3 x 6 6 0
Batteries: Diamond Girls- Molly Hennessy (L), Emily Johnston (3) and Rachel Funk; Brakettes- Nicole Williams (W, 4-1) and Hannah Cooper