Ruby Rivera doubled and hit a two-run homer, while putting on a fantastic performance at shortstop.
Feb. 22, 2014
Arlington, Texas – Illinois junior Shelese Arnold had held UMKC hitless heading into the bottom of the seventh, facing just one batter more than the minimum, when junior Kaitlyn Carey laid down a perfect bunt to lead off the final inning with an infield single. That would be the only hit of the game for the Roos, and a late offensive explosion, featuring five doubles and two home runs, led the Illini past UMKC, 7-0. With the win, Illinois improves to 9-3, while UMKC drops to 5-7.
Arnold (4-2) recorded her fourth career shutout, limiting UMKC to one hit and four walks while striking out three batters over the full seven innings.
The Illini offense came to life in the final three innings, registering seven runs on a total of 11 hits in the game, including a school-record-tying five doubles to go along with a pair of two-run home runs. Alex Booker led the Illini by going 3-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and a run, while Allie Bauch, Jade Vecvanags and Ruby Rivera each had two hits in the game. Bauch went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and an RBI; Vecvanags doubled twice, scored, and drove in a run; and Rivera was 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and two runs scored. Jess Perkins hit her first home run of the year, a two-run shot, to start the scoring, and Kylie Johnson also singled and scored in the game.
For the second time in one day, the Illini turned two double plays to increase their season total to 11 over the first 12 games of the season. Entering Saturday’s doubleheader, no other Big Ten team had registered more than five. Bauch was a part of both of them, snagging a liner and flipping to Rivera at second to end the first inning, then making the final putout of the third after Sanchez caught a liner in center and fired to second.
UMKC’s Kaitlyn Carey, who replaced Bri Wyatt in left field in the top of the fourth after Wyatt smashed into the wall in left robbing Vecvanags of what may very well have been a third extra-base hit, broke up Arnold’s no-hitter in the bottom of the seventh with a perfectly executed bunt single. Katie Kelley walked twice, and Brooke Parker and Aly Zembruski drew the remaining two walks, and Cinda Ramos represented the only other Kangaroo base runner due to a fielding error by Repole at third. Parker stole a base in the bottom of the first, and Perkins threw out pinch runner Abby Warkentine to end the fourth inning and tab her first career caught stealing as a catcher.
Cinda Ramos (2-4) got the start for the Roos, and allowed all seven runs, five earned, on 11 hits and one walk while striking out seven over six and two-thirds innings. Katie Kelley replaced her in the circle with two outs in the seventh and need to face just one batter to get out of the final inning.
“We didn’t come out aggressive and failed to execute in our first game today,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “Brandi (Needham) was strong on the mound, we just didn’t play our game.
“I love how we came back and played a complete game offensively and defensively against UMKC. Shelese was a terrific leader and had a fighting mentality. Perk contributed on both sides today. We could have started pressing when it took us a while to score, but our defense and pitching didn’t budge. I am very pleased with how we keep growing as a team.”
The game remained a scoreless tie through the first four innings, until the Illini finally got on the board in the top of the fifth. Rivera got things started by hustling out a double to shallow right. Perkins then crushed a two-run shot over the wall in left to put the Illini ahead 2-0. Johnson kept the rally going with an infield single, and Bauch drilled an RBI double to left center to make it 3-0 Illinois.
Illinois added to its lead in the top of the sixth, as Vecvanags led off with a double to left and Rivera followed with her first career home run to make it 5-0 Illini.
The Illinois hit parade continued in the top of the seventh, as Booker got things going with a one-out double to left. Brittany Sanchez hit a fly ball to shallow center that the sliding center fielder was unable to hold on to, driving in Booker, then Vecvanags followed with an RBI double, her second two-baser and the fifth of the game for the Illini, to make it 7-0 Illinois.
Kaitlyn Carey erased the game from the Illini pitching record books, laying down a bunt just up the third base line to begin the bottom of the seventh with the Roos first hit of the ballgame. Kelley drew a walk, and Christopher moved the runners up with a ground out to second. Zembruski hit the ball to third, but Repole fired home to get Carey and keep the Roos off the board. Ramos then grounded out to short for the final out of the game, as Arnold completed the shutout with just one hit allowed over the full seven innings.
Next Up: The Illini return to action on Sunday, Feb. 23, with a morning doubleheader to conclude play at the UTA Hilton Invitational. Illinois will play Creighton at 9 a.m., then host UT Arlington at 11 a.m. Live video will be available for the game against UTA, but a subscription is required to watch.