Leftfielder Hollie Pinchback set a single-game school record with her 5-for-5 performance.
April 12, 2009
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sophomore leftfielder Hollie Pinchback set a new school single-game record with five hits against the No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes (32-6, 9-1 Big Ten), but Illinois (22-12, 5-4 Big Ten) came up short in a 17-15 seesaw affair at Buckeye Field on Saturday afternoon. Pinchback was clutch at the plate, delivering five RBIs and scoring twice, while freshman third baseman Kelley Wedel belted a three-run home for her first career long ball.
The 32 combined runs are the second-most in a Big Ten game in history. Illinois has now been involved in the top two highest-scoring contests, having broken the record with an 18-15 win over Penn State earlier this season.
"Hollie was unstoppable today," head coach Terri Sullivan said. "She hit the ball square every time and you could tell she came to play today. I thought she really grew as a player during today's game, as did the rest of our team. It was key after yesterday that we regrouped and got our timing down. Everyone did a good job of adjusting because we had been struggling at the plate, so they decided today that they were tired of it."
In addition to Pinchback and Wedel, second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz, designated player Katrina Ross and rightfielder Hope Howell also drove in runs. Zymkowitz was 3-for-5 on the day with four runs, tied for the second-most in school history. She also remained perfect on the base-paths, stealing her 18th of the season, and reached base for the 32nd time in 34 games.
The Illini jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first after Zymkowitz led off with a single up the middle then stole second. Two batters later, Pinchback roped a double to the gap in left-center, scoring Zymkowitz.
Zymkowitz came through again in the second, driving in two of the Illini's three runs in the inning as the Orange and Blue took a 4-0 lead. After Ross doubled to right-center, pinch runner Audrey Gallien moved to third on shortstop Ashley Conrad's sacrifice bunt. Zymkowitz followed with a two-RBI single and Howell plated another run with a single to left-center.
Ohio State battled back in the bottom half of the inning, using four walks and a grand slam en route to a seven-run inning. The Buckeyes loaded the bases after an error, pair of walks and a fielder's choice, then a wild pitch plated OSU's first run. After a bases-loaded walk made it 4-2, catcher Sam Marder smacked a grand slam over the wall in left field to put the Buckeyes on top, 6-4. Ohio State added one more thanks to another Illini miscue and a two-out single.
"We were sloppy defensively," Sullivan said. "We put ourselves in a hole, but dug ourselves out of it. The players we saw today, though, are our type of players and they fought hard. We need to come out and put together a consistent performance on both sides of the ball."
The two teams continued to battle back and forth, as Illinois went back on top in the third thanks to Ross' two-run shot to left field and Pinchback's two-RBI base-knock. But the Illini saw their 8-7 lead turn to a deficit as the Buckeyes responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to take a one-run lead.
The fourth passed quietly with neither team scoring before the Orange and Blue broke it open again in the fifth with four runs. Pinchback knocked her second two-RBI double of the game and an error on the Buckeye shortstop allowed two more runs to score, giving Illinois a 12-9 lead.
OSU cut the lead to two thanks to another Illini error in the fifth, but Illinois made up for the run in the sixth when Wedel smashed the first pitch she saw over the left field wall, extending the lead to 15-10.
Again, though, the Buckeyes wouldn't go easily, putting up another seven-run inning in the bottom of the sixth. First baseman Tory Haddad's three-run double tied the game, then second baseman Whitney Cooper's two-run homer gave OSU the lead for good.
Both starting pitchers exited the game early before re-entering later and become the pitchers of record. Illini hurler Monica Perry (17-10) took the loss, as she tossed 1 2/3 innings to start the game, then re-entered for the final 1/3. Perry allowed 10 earned runs on seven hits. Reliever Ashley Wright pitched 3 1/3, giving up two earned runs on three hits, while Christine Christopoulos also saw 2/3 of inning and allowed one hit. Buckeye starter Lindsay Bodeker (12-3) picked up the win, going 4 1/3 allowing seven earned runs on eight hits. Kim Reeder pitched 2 2/3 relief innings, giving up six earned runs on eight hits.
The Illini look to rebound with another Big Ten doubleheader on Wednesday. Illinois will host the Indiana Hoosiers at Eichelberger Field with the first game starting at 5 p.m.