Illini Squeeze Out Victory Over Illinois State
April 7, 2009
URBANA, Ill. - Illini freshman first baseman Meredith Hackett laid down a beautiful bunt in the bottom of the eighth and sophomore leftfielder Hollie Pinchback bolted from third to home on the suicide squeeze to cap off Illinois' 10-9 win in a seesaw contest against the Illinois State Redbirds (17-16) on Tuesday evening at Eichelberger Field. The Illini (21-10) are now 5-0 in extra-inning contests, having won a pair on their home turf.
"You don't get to write what type of game you'd like to have, but our team had to show some resiliency," Illini head coach Terri Sullivan said. "Meredith is a great bunter and it's players that win games, not coaches. She executed a perfect suicide to help us get the win."
Freshman pitcher Monica Perry (16-8) picked up her third straight win, going six innings and allowing two runs on five hits while fanning eight Redbirds. Perry tossed the first 3 1/3 innings and left with an 8-1 lead before exiting, then re-entered in the sixth to finish off Illinois State over the final 2 2/3.
Sophomore shortstop Audrey Gallien made a splash in her sixth start of the season, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs to lead the Orange and Blue. Gallien knocked a two-RBI double in each of the first two innings and also crossed the plate once in the contest.
"Audrey's performance really highlighted the game both at the plate and with the great play she made in the hole at shortstop," Sullivan said. "She's so unselfish and she's got a great spirit about her. Hats off to her for her performance today."
Illinois got contributions from across the board, as five other Illini drove in runs as well. Senior catcher Lana Armstrong went deep for the fifth time this season, knocking a solo shot in the third inning. Freshman third baseman Kelley Wedel plated one in the first after taking a walk and knocked a key single in the sixth to put Illinois back on top, 9-8, after the Redbirds had battled back from a seven-run deficit.
The Illini also had an advantage from the Redbirds' defense, as the Orange and Blue made the most of six ISU errors to score seven unearned runs in the game. Illinois put up four runs in the first inning on two hits and pair of ISU errors, and matched those numbers in the third.
After ISU put up a trio of runs in the fifth and sixth, the Redbirds tied the game in the seventh with solo home run to send it to extras. That's when the Illinois bats came through again, as Pinchback took a leadoff walk then Armstrong knocked her to third with a double off the wall in right-center. Hackett's bunt sealed the deal, as Redbirds pitcher Jordan Birch (9-7) tried a quick throw home but Pinchback slid under the tag for the Illini's third straight win.
Illinois returns to the field on Thursday, hosting the Bradley Braves for a 6 p.m. matchup.