Bauch's Bombs Back Big Win over `Birds
April 1, 2014
Normal, Ill. – The Fighting Illini bats came alive this evening, as the Orange and Blue collected 10 hits, including three home runs, to cruise past Illinois State, 7-4. Sophomore Allie Bauch led off the game with a solo home run. Jenna Mychko ripped a solo shot to start the fourth, then Bauch knocked a two-run dinger later in the inning to put the Illini ahead 5-0 and back Brandi Needham in the circle. With the win, Illinois improves to 17-13, while the Redbirds sink to 12-20.
“It was good to see our entire lineup make offensive contributions,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “Allie was the igniter, and everyone else jumped on board. Brandi got stronger as the game went on and kept her focus. I like that we stayed the course and stuck to our game plan after ISU scored. That allowed us to strike right back. ISU is one of the most resilient teams we face, and every pitch was important.”
Bauch became the 11th member of the Fighting Illini to go deep twice in one game and the first to do so since Hollie Pinchback smashed a pair of homers against Northwestern on April 30, 2011. The Illini recorded five two-homer games in 2011, including three by Jessica Davis ’13. Bauch finished the night 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI. Meanwhile, Mychko was 2-for-3 with a walk, a run and three RBI. Brittany Sanchez drove in the seventh Illini run with an RBI single in the sixth, hitting in Kylie Johnson, who had doubled. Ruby Rivera, Jess Perkins and Alex Booker were all 1-for-3 with a walk, and Booker and Perkins both scored a run.
Brandi Needham went the distance for Illinois, improving to 12-6 on the year by allowing just one earned run on six hits and a walk, striking out five.
Illinois State starter Regan Romshek (8-10) pitched into the fourth inning, but left the circle after allowing a home run and a walk to start the frame. Taylor Baxter replaced her and got the first two outs, before surrendering a homer to Bauch. She allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts over three innings, before Romshek re-entered in the top of the seventh. The ISU starter allowed a total of four runs on three hits and four walks with two strikeouts over four innings.
Laura Canopy was the only Redbird with a multi-hit day, going 2-for-3 with ISU’s final RBI in the bottom of the seventh. Sara Bradley hit a three-run homer in the fourth, and Romshek doubled and scored on the homer.
For the fourth time this season, Bauch led off the game with a solo home run. Sanchez was a few feet shy of going back-to-back with Bauch, flying out to the warning track in straightaway center, but Perkins and Rivera kept the inning going with a pair of two-out walks. Mychko then drove a full-count pitch through the left side to bring home Perkins and make it 2-0 Illinois.
Mychko added to the Illini lead in the top of the fourth, leading off the frame with a solo shot to left center. Needham followed by drawing her second walk of the game, leading to Romshek’s exit from the circle. Baxter got the first two batters she faced out, but Bauch then crushed a two-run bomb just right of center to put Illinois ahead 5-0 and become the first Illini to rip two homers in a game in nearly three years.
The Redbirds got on the board in the bottom of the fourth, scoring three unearned runs on a three-run homer by Sara Bradley. Harrison got to second on a pair of errors by Bauch, and Romshek followed with a double to the base of the wall to put two in scoring position with one out. Rivera snagged a liner off the bat of de los Reyes for the second out, but Bradley made the Illini pay for their errors, driving a full-count pitch to left center to cut the Illini lead to two, 5-3.
The Illini got one back in the top of the fifth, as Booker and Rivera led off with back-to-back singles. Mychko then drove in Booker with an RBI ground out to second, making it 6-3 Illinois.
Illinois added another run in the sixth inning, as Johnson doubled off the wall and Sanchez brought her home with a two-out RBI single to left.
The Redbirds did not go quietly, as Heineman worked a leadoff walk as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh. A fly ball and a grounder had the Redbirds down to their final out, when Canopy ripped an RBI single to center to cut the lead to three. However, Needham then finished off her 12th victory of the season by getting Harrison to fly out to left, to secure a 7-4 Illini win.
Next Up: Illinois returns home this weekend to host No. 20 Nebraska in a three-game series beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 4. The following morning will be World’s Largest Softball Tailgate XI, complete with kid’s activities, inflatables, a “Diamond in the Rough” contest, and a live performance by Nick Lynch.