An extra-inning sacrifice fly by Stacey McManus gave the Aussie Spirit a thrilling win after a see-sawing contest against China in Game 5 of their World Cup clash in Oklahoma City.
The dramatic last-gasp win was a fitting end to a game in which the Spirit twice seemed set for defeat but both times showed great character to bounce back.
The eventual 6-5 victory had seemed unlikely when China scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 4-3 lead.
Needing a run in the bottom of the seventh, the Spirit produced it in dramatic fashion. Belinda White led off with a single and advanced to second on a Stacey McManus sacrifice. After Brenda De Blaes walked and Stacey Porter struck out, China need one more out to win the game. But Chelsea Forkin’s hard grounder was misplayed at second base, allowing the tying run to score.
In the first extra inning, China scored on a double by Lu Ying to take the lead. But again the Australians hit back. In the bottom of the eighth, with lead runner Jade Wall placed on second,Taylah Tsitsikronis sacrificed and Clare Warwick tied the game with a single. Janice Blackman then singled ad White walked to load the bases and set the scene for McManus to deliver the game-winning sacrifice fly, which she did on a 1-1 pitch.
The Spirit used three pitchers, who were all effective. Kaia Parnaby struck out eight and walked none in four innings, allowing just one run. Justine Smethurst gave up two earned runs while striking out five in her 2.1 innings of work, and Jocelyn Jeloudev pitched the final 1.2 innings without allowing a run, striking out three.