Golden Gophers Grab a Pair of Wins in DH Sweep

Sami Estill started at DP in game two, tabbing her first Illini hit in her first career start for the Orange and Blue.
Sami Estill started at DP in game two, tabbing her first Illini hit in her first career start for the Orange and Blue.

April 13, 2013

Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score

Urbana, Ill. - In a series that was originally scheduled to be played in Minnesota, the Illini hosted the Golden Gophers as the visiting team on their own Eichelberger Field for a Big Ten doubleheader on Saturday. Minnesota, who entered the weekend in fourth place with a 6-3 Big Ten record, edged the Illini in both games, winning 5-1 in the opener then 2-0 in the night cap. With the wins, the Golden Gophers improve to 25-13 (8-3 Big Ten), while the Illini's slide continues, falling to 11-24 (1-10 Big Ten).

"Our hitters have to do more with two strikes on them," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "We were in that spot a lot today. When we had positive hitting counts, we had some success."

Alex Booker and Remeny Perez each had two hits this afternoon, and Jessica Davis slugged her second triple of the year in game one. Sami Estill, making her first career start for the Orange and Blue in game two, singled to lead off the second for her first Illini hit.

"I was proud of Sami for coming in and putting the ball in play in her spot as DP," said Sullivan. "Shelese and Pepper threw more aggressive. We need to put it all together tomorrow."

Tyler Walker, who finished the day hitting .403 on the year, proved a near impossible out for the Illini, reaching base in seven of eight opportunities, slugging a triple and two home runs in the first game.

Game 1: Minnesota 5, Illinois 1 | Box Score (PDF)

Minnesota shortstop Tyler Walker was the offensive spark for the Golden Gophers at the top of the lineup, getting on base all four times, with a triple, two home runs and a walk, to lead Minnesota past Illinois, 5-1, in the first game of the day. Alex Davis was 2-for-3 with a solo homer and Kari Dorle had a two-RBI single in the first.

Jessica Davis was the first Illini batter to get a hit with less than two outs, lacing an RBI triple in the sixth. Allie Bauch, Alex Booker and Brittany Sanchez all singled with two outs in the second and third innings.

Sara Moulton tabbed her 21st win in the circle, allowing one earned run on four hits and two walks, striking out 11. Pepper Gay threw the complete six innings for the Illini, allowing seven hits and eight walks while striking out five.

Tyler Walker led off the bottom of the first with a towering triple to right. Gay struck out Blanchette for the first out and pitched around the hit-hitting Richardson, who stole second. Kari Dorle then drove in the first two runs of the game on a single to right center. As she turned to go to second on the throw, Remeny Perez cut the ball off and fired to Jessica Davis on second for the out.

Walker followed her first-inning triple with a solo home run over the wall in right. Two innings later, she did it again, leading off the fifth with solo shot off the scoreboard in left center.

Allie Bauch led off the top of the sixth with a walk. Booker replaced her on first with a fielder's choice to second. Jessica Davis then roped her second triple of the season past the right fielder to the wall in left center, sending Booker across the plate for the Illini's first run of the game.

The Golden Gophers got the run right back in the bottom of the sixth on a solo homer to left by Alex Davis, making it 5-1 heading into the final inning.

Jade Smith, Jenna Mychko and Sami Estill pinch hit in the top of the seventh, but Moulton got all three batters out to secure the 5-1 victory for the Golden Gophers.

Game 2: Minnesota 2, Illinois 0 | Box Score (PDF)

The Illini and Golden Gophers each had four hits in the second game of the doubleheader, but Minnesota was able to capitalize on a home run and a bases-loaded walk to eke out a 2-0 victory.

Remeny Perez went 2-for-3 in the game on a pair of singles to center. Alex Booker singled and stole a base in the sixth, and Sami Estill tabbed her first Illini hit in her first career start for the Orange and Blue.

Shelese Arnold got the rock for the second game, tossing 4.1 solid innings, allowing two runs on four hits and five walks. Pepper Gay finished it off for Arnold; she did not give up a hit or get credited with a run, stranding one of two inherited runners, and struck out two while walking four.

Nikki Anderson improved to 4-2 with 5.0 strong innings in the circle. She allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four in the start. Sara Moulton came back in in the top of the sixth, giving up just one hit with a strikeout to earn the two-inning save.

Bree Blanchette was the offensive story in game two, tallying a double and a home run for two of the Golden Gophers' four hits. Richardson and Walker both singled in the first, but Linnea Detrick threw Walker out stealing for a key out to hold Minnesota off the board early.

Sami Estill, making her first career start for the Illini as the designated player, led off the top of the second with a swinging bunt single. Detrick moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt and Katie Repole got her to third on a fly out to right; but the Illini could not come up with the RBI, stranding the junior transfer on third.

Minnesota's Bree Blanchette opened the scoring in the bottom of the third with a solo homer to right.

Walker walked with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Blanchette doubled off the walk in left to make it second and third, and Arnold then left the game with an injury. Pepper Gay replaced her in the circle and began by loading the bases with the walk of Richardson. She got a key out on the next play, striking out Dorle for the second out, but allowed a walk to Meyer to bring home Walker. Gay then got Wenner to pop out to her, getting out of the jam with just one run allowed.

Booker singled up the middle with one out in the sixth. She arrived at second on an unconventional stolen base, trotting over on a 3-1 pitch out of the zone, when Perez's check swing was appealed as a strike erasing the walk. However, Booker was already on second and got to keep the free base. Nevertheless, she would get no further, as leftfielder Erica Mayer made a diving catch in foul territory to get Perez for the third out of the inning.

Moulton set the Illini down in order in the seventh, rendering a final score of 2-0.

The Illini and Golden Gophers are back in action Sunday, completing the Big Ten series with a single game at Eichelberger Field beginning at 1 p.m. Minnesota will once again play as the home team in Sunday's game, despite the game being held in Urbana.