Rightfielder Hope Howell went 2-for-3 with an RBI in Illinois 3-2 loss to Florida Atlantic.
March 2, 2008
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Illinois took a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning of the championship game of the Miken Classic, but the hosting Florida Atlantic Owls (11-10) rallied for three runs in the final two innings to claim the 3-2 win. Illinois finished the tournament with a 4-1 record, moving to 12-8 overall.
Designated player Hollie Pinchback and rightfielder Hope Howell each went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Righthander Claire DeVreese (9-5) went the distance for Illinois, allowing two earned runs on eight hits and striking out three.
The two teams battled early, with Florida Atlantic getting a pair of hits to threaten in the first inning. Illinois' defense stifled the threat, though, getting the lead runner out at third on a fielder's choice before centerfielder Sarah Bryers ended the inning with an on-the-money throw to home plate, leaving the score tied at zero.
Illinois took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third after Angelena Mexicano knocked a single then moved around the bases on a fly ball and wild pitch. Designated player Hollie Pinchback smacked a double to right-center, plating Mexicano for the one-run lead.
Still clinging to a one-run lead in the sixth, the Illini fell behind when the Owls put two runs on the board thanks to an error and pair of singles. After a hit batsman and error put runners on first and second, FAU second baseman Ashlyn Parmerter smacked a single to load the bases, then centerfielder Jessica Myers followed with a single to tie the game. With the bases still loaded and two outs, DeVreese walked home the go-ahead run, giving FAU a 2-1 advantage.
Illinois battled back in the bottom half of the inning when Pinchback roped a single and advanced to third after a wild pitch and passed ball. Rightfielder Hope Howell re-tied the game at 2-2 with a double to the gap in right-center.
FAU took the lead for good in the top of the seventh, putting runners on first and second after a walk and hit batsman. Owls' third baseman Caitlyn Bliss laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position before shortstop Bukovich knocked the game-winning RBI-groundout, giving FAU the 3-2 win and snapping Illinois' five-game winning streak.
Shortstop Angelena Mexicano tied the school's career home run record on Friday then waited only a day before claiming the top spot for herself. Her two long balls on the weekend put her at 34 career home runs, moving ahead of former All-American first baseman Jenna Hall in the record book.
Illinois belted a total of nine home runs over the weekend, nearly matching their season total of 13 coming into the tournament. Six different Illini went deep, with Mexicano, Shanna Diller and Katrina Ross each homering twice over the weekend. The Illini bashed five home runs in their tournament opener against Rutgers, tying the team's single game record. It marked just the second time in history that five different Illini homered in a game.
The Illini got contributions from across the board this weekend, as every starter crossed the plate and drove in at least one run. Mexicano led the way with six RBIs, while she and centerfielder Sarah Bryers each scored six runs. Bryers batted .600 and slugged 1.100 on the weekend, with a home run and three RBIs.
Ashley Wright had an outstanding weekend, picking up two wins and allowing no earned runs through nine innings pitched. With Wright in the circle, Illinois made quick work of its opponents, using the eight-run-rule to claim victory in both of her appearances.
Illinois offense exploded over the weekend, outscoring its opponents, 32-7, including two shutouts. The Illini also held a 47-21 hitting advantage.