Consistent Offense Propels Illini to 7-5 Victory in Houston Invite Finale
Feb. 17, 2013
Houston, Texas – Consistent offense and a pair of home runs led the Illini past Houston, 7-5, in the final game of the Hilton Houston Plaza Invite. With the victory, Illinois tied Houston for second place in the tournament. The Illini are now 5-5, while the Cougars drop to 7-4.
"We demanded more physical and mental toughness from this team heading into today,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “We knew it was going to be a fight for seven innings, and it was. I thought we took punches better than we have in our first nine games, and then gave them back. We must do that throughout the season, and we have learned that early.
“We were happy to see Allie and Perk each drive one out of the park, and Mychko’s bases loaded shot was key under pressure. Sanchez and Booker made some big catches for us, and the battery of Pepper and Cuevas led us all the way. Outstanding team effort in a tough Sunday battle."
Jess Perkins and Allie Bauch each hit solo home runs late in the game to solidify the Illini lead. Perkins was 2-for-3 with a walk, Brittany Sanchez went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and Jenna Mychko had a two-out, two-run double. Kylie Johnson scored twice and beat out a bunt for a single, and Alex Booker singled, walked and scored. Every Illini starter reached base at least once, as the team combined for a total of nine hits.
Holly Anderson had two of Houston’s four hits, scoring twice, and Julana Shrum was 1-for-1 with a pinch hit two-run homer.
Pepper Gay earned her fourth win of the season, allowing five runs, four earned, on four hits and three walks while striking out seven in the complete game victory. Summer Groholski allowed five runs, but just one earned, on six hits and two walks, while striking out three in 4.1 innings, and Bailey Watts allowed three hits, two of which were solo home runs, and tabbed five strikeouts in 2.2 innings in relief.
Kendra Cullum drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first. Reina Gaber hit a grounder to third, but Repole skied the throw, allowing the runners to make it safely to second and third. Haley Outon then earned the first RBI of the game, driving in Cullum on a sacrifice fly to left.
Booker began the top of the third with single and Mychko moved her over to second with a ground out. Cuevas hit a grounder to second, which was mis-played, allowing Booker to come around and score, tying the game at one.
Anderson led off the bottom of the third with a single to left. Cullum struck out, but Gaber ripped a double to the wall in right, scoring Anderson. Outon followed with a deep fly to left, scoring Gaber on the sacrifice fly, to put Houston back on top, 3-1.
Johnson grounded back to the pitcher to open the fourth, but a muffed throw allowed her to reach first safely. Perkins walked, and Sanchez hit an RBI single to center, scoring Johnson. After a strikeout, Booker walked to load the bases, and Mychko ripped a two-out, two-run double to give the Illini the lead, 4-3.
Johnson kept the scoring going in the fifth, beating out a bunt for a single. Perkins followed with a single to left, and Sanchez loaded the bases with another single. After a pitching change brought Watts to the mound, Davis was hit by a pitch to drive in a run, making it 5-3.
In the top of the sixth, Bauch hit a solo shot over the wall in dead center for her first career home run as an Illini. Perkins led off the top of the seventh with her second home run of the weekend, a solo homer to center, to give the Illini some breathing room, up 7-3.
Down to their final three outs, the Cougars used a pair of pinch hitters in the bottom of the second. PH Snyder flied out to left, then leadoff hitter Anderson got her second hit of the day. Julana Shrum pinch hit for Cullum, and skied a two-run homer over the wall in right to keep Houston alive, 7-5. Gaber hit a line drive to left, but Sanchez made a great play on the ball for the out, and Repole recorded the final out of the game, catching a pop fly in foul territory at third, to finish out the weekend with a 7-5 Illinois victory.
The Illini are back in action next weekend, when they travel to Palm Springs, Calif., for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Illinois opens the tournament against No. 18/16 Washington at 7:30 p.m. CT (5:30 PT) on Friday, Feb. 22.