Illinois wins pitching dual, falls in slugfest

Angelena Mexicano drove in the game winning run in a 3-2 victory over Sacramento State.
Angelena Mexicano drove in the game winning run in a 3-2 victory over Sacramento State.

March 18, 2005

Illinois-BYU Box ScoreIllinois-Sacramento State Box r>

Sacramento, Calif. - The Illini softball team had a strange day at the Capital Classic in Sacramento, Calif. In the first game of the day, BYU and Illinois combined for 28 runs and 35 hits as the Cougars prevailed 18-10 in six innings. The Illini had to turn around and play host Sacramento State. This time sophomore Mary Miller scattered five hits and Illinois came from behind to down the Hornets, 3-2 in eight innings.

In the wild opener, Illinois rebounded from a 6-0 deficit to take a 10-9 lead after four innings. BYU wasted little time in taking back the lead with three runs in the fifth and six in the sixth to win by the mercy rule.

First baseman Kisten Martin, who had a two-run triple in Tuesday's win over Illinois State, continued her hot hitting, by going 4-for-4 with a double, a run scored and two RBI. The top three in the Illinois order - Rachelle Coriddi (2-for-4, double, two runs), LeeAnn Butcher (2-for-4, two runs, RBI) and Shanna Diller (2-for-3, walk, run) each had two of the Illini's 15 hits.

Diller singled home the first two runs for the Illini with a single to left center. Angelena Mexicano's sacrifice fly made it 6-3 before Martin's run-scoring single brought the Illini to within two.

BYU added three runs in the top of the fourth to make it 9-4, but Illinois scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth. Coriddi began the rally with a double to center, stole second and scored on a Butcher single. Mexicano singled right back through the box, scoring two runs to make it 9-7. Jackelyn Diekemper brought Illinois within one with a run-scoring single, then was on base for Julie Balicki's two run triple to the left-center field gap. That made it 10-9 Illinois.

BYU's Paige Paramore and Ashlyn Russell each homered twice for the Cougars. Russell hit three-run shots in the fifth and sixth to put the game out of reach.

As offensive as the first game was, small ball was the order for the second game. Sacramento State manufactured a run in the first and third inning, but that was all the Hornets could get off of Miller. The sophomore did not allow an extra base hit and allowed just two hits after the third inning.

Illinois scored the first run off Sacramento State and starter Nikki Cinque in the Hornets past three games with a run in the fourth. Mexicano's single to center plated Butcher for the first Illinois run. Diekemper's rope double to left center scored Jenna Hall with tying run in the bottom of the sixth. The Illini carried momentum into that inning when Miller got out of a runner at third and no out jam in the top of the sixth.

Using the international tie breaker rule, each team started the eighth with a runner at second. Sacramento State had runners at first and third and no outs in the top of the eighth, but Miller did not allow a ball out of the infield in the inning to keep CSUS off the board. Diller delivered with a base hit scoring Butcher from second in the bottom of the eighth to give the Illini a hard-fought come-from behind victory.

Illinois, now 13-8 on the season, plays Kansas and Long Island in the tournament on Saturday.