Illinois comeback falls just short
April 3, 2005
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Illinois completed its toughest weekend this season on Sunday against top-ranked Michigan. The Illini nearly upset the No. 1 Wolverines before falling just short, 8-7 in game one of the doubleheader. The Wolverines allowed just one base runner in completing the sweep of Illinois, 10-0 in the back half of the twinbill. Illinois, which had to play two games at No. 20 Northwestern on Friday and Saturday, falls to 0-4 in the Big Ten and 15-15 overall. The Wolverines, which had a 32-game winning streak snapped on Friday, improve to 3-1 in the conference and 35-2 overall.
Offense was the name of the game in the Big Ten on Sunday where winning teams averaged seven runs
"The offense came alive somewhat in the first game and we took advantage of some Michigan mistakes," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan.
Shanna Diller's (1-4, HR, 4 RBI) three-run home run, her fifth of the season, in the seventh inning brought the Illini to within one and brought the tying run to the plate, but Illinois' comeback bid fell just short.
Illinois took an early lead, came back to tie, saw Michigan extend its lead, then scored four runs in the seventh inning to nearly pull off the upset. The Illini took advantage of four Michigan errors, including one in the first. Rachelle Coriddi (2-for-4, 2 runs) tripled down the right field line to open the game and scored when Diller effectively hit the ball to the right side to allow the speedy Coriddi to score. Diller reached on a fielding error by the UM second baseman.
"We have done a good job of scoring right away," Sullivan said. "I attribute that to the speed of Rachelle and LeeAnn (Butcher) at the top of the order. Now we need to get the players in the middle and bottom of the order going the way they were earlier in the season."
Michigan scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning taking advantage of the long ball. Tiffany Haas' solo home run in the first was one of four round rippers for Michigan in the game and one of six in the doubleheader.
The Illini tied the game with two runs in the third inning taking advantage of two Michigan errors and a wild pitch. The Wolverines scored two runs in the bottom of the third on solo home runs by Nicole Motcyka and Stephanie Bercaw, then scored three more in the sixth inning to take what seemed like a commanding 8-3 lead.
The Illini battled back, however. Jackelyn Diekemper singled up the middle to lead off the inning. After Brittany Koester walked and a ground out, Diekemper scored when LeeAnn Butcher stroked a single to left field. Diller then turned a pitch from the Wolverines' Jennie Ritter (16-0) and sent it over the fence in right field.
Unfortunately for the Illini, the five hits vs. Michigan were over half of the total output of nine for the entire weekend. The Illini managed just one hit in the second game of the doubleheader as Michigan won comfortably, 10-0. Samantha Findlay homered twice in the game and Motycka notched another round tripper in the nightcap for the victorious Wolverines.
After playing its first 30 games away from Eichelberger Field, the Illini play the next the eight games at home. "We have played some quality opponents so far this year and hope we can jump start our team by playing in front of our home fans," Sullivan said. "They have been terrific in the past and I'm sure will be there to get us going this week."