The Stratford Brakettes\u2019 Battle of the Sexes softball game with the Bridgeport Bluefish was scheduled to be an exhibition of fastpitch softball, but turned out to be much more than that in a contest played before a crowd of 3,927 at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard on Sunday, July 20. The Bluefish scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to take a 2-1 decision. Players smiled, but there was an underlying will to win. Bluefish first base coach Sean Burroughs came down to kick dirt on the plate after a strike call, and another Bluefish player was playfully tossed from the game after disagreeing with an out call at third base. Milford\u2019s Mike Georgetti was the home plate umpire. \u201cIt was a lot of fun,\u201d he said. \u201cBoth teams were out there to compete. It was fun, but they were serious.\u201d Brakettes player\/coach Amber Radomski said, \u201cWhen you are used to playing at a high level the competitive spirit is always there,\u201d \u201cIt was comical at times, but each player wanted to leave with a win. We put the ball in play, and had a bunch of base runners, but they made the plays. \u201cThe thing I realized is that their wingspan was ridiculous. Balls that we hit that would get usually go through to the outfield were being fielded. \u201cI hadn\u2019t thought of that coming in, but they were able to cover so much ground.\u201d The game featured three runs, 13 hits, two walks, 26 strikeouts and five runners being thrown out on the base paths. Cassie Ruscz and Jess Mouse had two singles each, and Mandie Fishback, Britt Lampert from Shelton, Denise Dennis and Radomski from Easton one apiece. Ramon Castro had two hits, and Matt Iannazzo, Hunter Jones and Joe Bateman one each. \u201cIt was a good night for softball all around,\u201d Brakettes\u2019 manager John Stratton said. \u201cThis was a nice crowd and they enjoyed every minute. \u201cI\u2019m upset (to lose). I hate to see is a great show, a great game, end that way. If you\u2019re going to end it, end it with a base hit, make it legit.\u201d With the game tied and two out in the ninth, Joe Bateman beat out a corkscrewed grounder to Fishback at shortstop to end a stretch of six consecutive strikeouts by the Brakettes\u2019 Allyson Fournier. \u201cI couldn\u2019t even see the ball,\u201d said Bateman, a pitcher by trade. \u201cI decided not to even move my feet and just try to get my bat on the ball.\u201d Bateman\u2019s hit, the fifth for the Bluefish, brought Castro to the plate. Castro had a hit that was played into a triple and scored on Prentice Redmen\u2019s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. Here, he lofted a high fly to the outfield that was misplayed and Bateman never stopped running from first base. The relay to the plate was caught, then dropped, and Bateman slid home safely. Bateman described the play: \u201cI thought that\u2019s three outs, and then I turned around and saw the ball had been lost in the lights or something. \u201cI kept running and then said, \u2018Oh, oh I\u2019m going to get thrown out.\u2019 But I slid in and saw the ball on the ground. \u201cThis game is fun because it brings people together. On or off the field, anything positive that brings people together is great. There is a reason tons of people turned out.\u201d Lampert led off the sixth with a single and Dennis followed with an infield hit off Stratford Seahawk pitcher Alyson Chiaramonte, who had come on in relief of Bluefish starter Nick French. Chiaramonte got out of the jam when catcher Billy Gonzalez threw out two runners at third Ramon Castro had two hits, and Matt Iannazzo, Hunter Jones and Joe Bateman one each for the Bluefish. Radomski singled with two outs in the ninth and pinch runner Fishback went to second on Mouse\u2019s hit to the right side. Chiaramonte retired Tatum Buckley from Monroe on a grounder to third. The Brakettes took the lead in the top of the fifth inning. Fishback led off and was one of French\u2019s eight strikeout victims, but reached safely when the third strike went to the improvised backstop. Mouse sacrificed Fishback to second, where she proceeded to steal third on an 0-1 pitch to Tatum Buckley. French notched another strikeout, before Ruscz singled through the hole into left field to plate Fishback. Iannazzo out of Norwalk inside outed a pitch to left field and hustled out of the box for a leadoff double in the third. Brakette starting pitcher Brandice Balschmiter got Winston Abreau to pop up his sacrifice bunt attempt, and Ruscz made a sliding catch rushing the plate from her first base position. Balschmitter then struck out the top two batters in the order \u2014 Juan Martinez and Castro. Balschmiter finished her stint with seven strikouts. She allowed three hits and walked one. Balschmiter caught Martinez looking at strike three to open the home first and begin a cat-and-mouse game between batter and pitcher. French, the pitching coach at the College of the Holy Cross, has played modified and fastpitch softball for eight seasons and was a member of the 2008 ASA Modified National champion Granite State Bulldogs. \u201cThe pitchers threw well,\u201d Stratton said. \u201cBrandice was great, and she had pitched to men before with the Chicago Bandits. \u201cWe struggled at the bat. I don\u2019t know if it was depth perception. The big guy (French), y\u2019know, he crow-hopped, and by the time he he got done was at 35 feet (after starting at 43).\u201d Elena Bowman threw out Bateman attempting to steal in the fifth inning. Jones had opened the frame with a single, before Mouse at third handled Bateman\u2019s hot shot and threw to Buckley covering second for the force out. The Stratford Seahawks\u2019 Alyson Chiaramonte pitched the final four innings for the Bluefish. \u201cIt was a great atmosphere to itch in,\u201d she said. \u201cYes, we know each other, but every at bat was a challenge. Billy Gonzaez (catcher) called a great game.\u201d Fournier came on to pitch for the Brakettes in the sixth and marked her entry with three consecutive strikeouts. After the Bluefish tied the game in the seventh, Fournier ended that inning with a strikeout and the next five batters suffered a similar fate before Bateman found his way on board. When asked if he would like to play the Bluefish again, Stratton said, \u201cThat\u2019s up to Bob Baird our general manager.\u201d When told it might be left up to him, Baird looked at the still half-filled ballpark and gave a thumb\u2019s up.