Gay No-Hits Panthers to Cap Twin-Bill Sweep at UNI Dome

Pepper Gay became the fourth Illinois pitcher ever to throw a solo no-hitter in the 8-0 victory over UNI
Pepper Gay became the fourth Illinois pitcher ever to throw a solo no-hitter in the 8-0 victory over UNI

Feb. 10, 2013

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Cedar Falls, Iowa - One day after breaking the Illinois strikeout record, senior Pepper Gay made history again, throwing the 10th no-hitter in Illinois history. The Illini defeated Green Bay, 6-3, in the first game of the day, before Illinois took down host UNI, 8-0, in six innings of no-hit ball. The Illini finished the tournament with a 3-2 record.

"If I could tell you how well they responded to our team meeting last night," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan, "we had a lot of points of emphasis. We wanted to limit walks today, and Pepper comes back with a no-walk, no-hit performance against a really aggressive UNI team. I'm really proud of how she focused and responded the way she always does when called upon. She made adjustments and just threw an excellent game.

"It's not easy to do, and this came after she struggled a little bit earlier in the weekend. It shows how serious she is about leading this team where we want to go and achieving our goals. The team's awfully excited for her."

After falling behind Green Bay, 3-0, in the first game of the day, the Illini scored six unanswered runs, including a five-run fourth inning, to defeat the Phoenix, 6-3. Shelese Arnold earned her first career victory in the game, allowing one run in 5.1 innings of relief.

The Illini found their stride on both offense and defense in the afternoon, exploding for 13 hits and eight runs against the reigning MVC Champion UNI Panthers, while making 16 solid putouts in the field to back Gay in the circle.

"We had many hitters that had not been seeing the ball really well, trying to do too much at the plate, and today they responded," said Sullivan. "Katie Repole over at third base had a day at the plate. Brittany Sanchez--we said, who wants to be in that third lineup spot in the heart of the order, and she came through with an outstanding performance. Our team just worked really well together. The lineup had a lot of energy."

Gay allowed just one baserunner in six innings against the Panthers, who reached base due to an error in the first inning. She became the fourth Illinois pitcher to throw a solo no-hitter, and the just the second to do so in longer than five innings. Kathryn Nevard is the only other Illini to carry a no-hitter past the fifth inning, doing so twice in 2001.

"We got the win," said Gay. We run-ruled them. I'm just really happy right now. Our hitters did a great job, we scored almost every inning, and it made my job a lot easier."

Today's game marked just the third time in Illinois history that a pitching staff did not allow a hit, walk, hit batter or run. Sherri Taylor threw the Illini's only perfect game on April 29, 2003, a 13-0 defeat of Valparaiso in five innings, and Nevard's first no-no on Feb. 17, 2001, featured one baserunner due to an error.

The last Illinois no-hitter was a combined effort by Monica Perry and Ashley Wright on May 15, 2010, when Illinois defeated Minnesota, 10-0, in five innings. Perry also threw the most recent solo no-hitter, a five-inning 8-0 victory over Wisconsin on April 4, 2009.

Alex Booker had a tremendous day at the plate, going 6-for-8 with four runs, two stolen bases and an RBI. Brittany Sanchez and Katie Repole were both 4-for-7, as Sanchez tallied three RBI, two stolen bases and a run, while Repole smashed two triples and scored twice.

As a team, the Illini batted .411 with 23 hits, while pitching to a 0.69 ERA in the pair of wins.

"We thought we needed to finish games better, and today we finished one early," said Sullivan. "All parts really came together today, and I think it speaks to the maturity of this team That came from a lot of really good leadership and Alex Booker has given us a lot of the Illini Pride."

Game 1: Illinois 6, Green Bay 3 | Box Score (PDF)

The Illini offense erupted with 10 hits, including five in a five-run fourth inning, to defeat Green Bay, 6-3. Booker, Sanchez, Repole and Jenna Mychko each had two hits and combined for six RBI and three runs.  Danielle Trezzo, Jade Smith and Dana Sullivan each had a stolen base, and Repole tabbed her first extra-base hit, a triple in the sixth.

Jackie Guy started the game in the circle, but only pitched 1.2 innings, allowing two hits, two walks and two unearned runs, before Shelese Arnold came in to replace her. Arnold gave up four hits and three walks, allowing just one run, over 5.1 innings to earn her first career victory.

Hailey Mohrfield led the Phoenix with two hits and an RBI, Danielle Peerenboom was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and Stacey Butts went 0-for-4 but scored twice.

Allison Goecks pitched the first 3.0+ innings and was responsible for five earned runs on seven hits and two walks, taking the loss. Briana Cavin allowed one run on three hits in the final three innings.

A pair of throwing errors in the top of the second led to two Green Bay unearned runs. Stacey Butts reached first safely on an error by Jessica Davis at shortstop. Danielle Peerenboom laid down a sacrifice bunt, and ended up safe at first on an error by Perkins, allowing Butts to make it to third. Miranda Spangberg walked to load the bases, and an RBI groundout by Tia Collins brought in the first run. Mohrfield drove in a second run with a single up the middle. Arnold then came in to relieve Guy in the circle, and drew a groundout to end the inning.

Peerenboom bounced a ground rule double over the fence in right-center field to drive in Butts in the top of the third, lifting the Phoenix ahead, 3-0.

Mychko led off the bottom of the third with a single to shallow left. Pinch runner Dana Sullivan recorded her first career stolen base, taking second, to set up Sanchez for a two-out RBI single to center. Perkins walked, and Bauch beat out an infield single to first; however, a miscommunication on the basepaths landed both Perkins and Sanchez on third, as Green Bay threw across the diamond for the third out.

The Illini bats came alive in the fourth, putting up a five-spot to take a 6-3 lead. Trezzo started it off with a walk, and Smith beat out a bunt for a single. A double steal set up Repole, who singled through the left side to score Trezzo and advanced to second on the throw. Mychko slammed a two-RBI single up the middle, and Booker followed with another bunt single. Tobon grounded out to the right side to move up the runners, and Sanchez smashed a two-run single to left, to finish the inning with a three-run lead.

Repole led off the sixth inning with a triple to deep right-center, her first extra-base hit for the Orange and Blue. The next three batters all put the ball in play, but the Illini were unable to drive her home, heading to the seventh still leading, 6-3.

With Green Bay down to its final three outs, Marissa Michalkiewic led off the top of the seventh with a double to the wall in left-center. Cassie Scheel, pinch-hitting, nailed the next pitch deep to left, but Booker made a great over-the-shoulder catch for the first out. Gabrielle Cassady walked to bring the tying run to the plate. Arnold remained poised in the circle, striking out Butts and drawing a flyout to right to close the game with her first career victory, by a final score of 6-3.

Game 2: Illinois 8, UNI 0 (6 innings) | Box Score (PDF)

Senior pitcher Pepper Gay threw a no-no in a 6-inning rout of UNI, allowing just one base runner on an error in the first inning, while striking out two. She threw 87 pitches in the game, 56 for strikes. It's her second-straight victory, after earning the `W' against North Dakota State Saturday.

Alex Booker went 4-for-4 with three runs, two steals and an RBI. Brittany Sanchez, Jess Perkins and Katie Repole all had two hits, as Repole picked up her second triple of the day in the fourth inning. The Illini had 13 hits in the game, the most since Apr. 10, 2011, at Ohio State.

UNI starting pitcher Jamie Fisher allowed four runs, two earned, on 10 hits in the first five innings. Mackenzie Flaws gave up four earned runs on three hits and two walks in 0.2 innings, and Ellie Doughty retired the final batter of the sixth.

Booker led off the top of the first with a single to the right side. She stole second, and Sanchez made it first and third, reaching on an error by the second baseman. Perkins knocked in Booker with an RBI groundout, and Sanchez made it 2-0, scoring on a wild pitch.

Repole began the fourth inning with her second triple of the day, roping a line drive to the wall in left field. Bauch beat out an infield single, driving home Repole.

Singles to left by Booker, Sanchez and Perkins in the top of the fifth loaded the bases for Repole with one out. The freshman laced a single through the left side, scoring Booker, but a perfect throw by leftfielder Samantha Olsen, caught Sanchez at the plate. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Illini led, 4-0.

Flaws relieved Fisher in the top of the sixth, and began the inning by walking Smith on four pitches. She advanced to second on a wild pitch, then Trezzo walked, and the pair moved up on a passed ball to make it second and third with one out for Booker. Booker drove in Smith with a single down the right-field line, then stole second to return to second and third, still one out. Johnson laid down a slap hit, fielded by the pitcher. Flaws looked back Trezzo, then turned to make the play at first. As soon as she turned, Trezzo came in to score. The speedy Johnson made it to first before Flaws could make the play, and a heads-up Booker rounded third and came in to score from second, seeing that Flaws was still focused on first base. Johnson stole second and a deep fly out by Sanchez moved her to third. Perkins then ripped an RBI single, scoring Johnson, which made it 8-0 and put Illinois in position to win the game in the bottom of the sixth.

Gay drew a fly out and a popup in the bottom of the sixth to come one out away from history, with Hunter coming up to the play. Hunter was ahead in the count, 2-1, then fouled off four straight pitches before Gay threw one by her for the final out of the historical game.

Illinois returns to action on Friday, when the Illini take on Texas in the first of five games at the Hilton Houston Plaza Invite.