Illini Bats Improve but Gophers Get Illini with Walks, Homers
April 14, 2013
Urbana, Ill. - The Fighting Illini pitching staff allowed just four hits, but two of them accounted for seven runs, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated Illinois, 9-3. With the win, Minnesota improves to 16-13 (9-3 Big Ten), while the Illini sink to 11-25 (1-11 Big Ten).
The Illini offense showed signs of rejuvenation, putting the ball in play with runners on and tallying three runs. Alex Booker had two clutch at bats with runners on, going 1-for-4 with a run and a fielder's choice RBI. Allie Bauch had a single and an RBI and Remeny Perez had another RBI on a fielder's choice. Linnea Detrick and Jade Smith each singled, and pinch runners Kylie Johnson and Dana Sullivan both crossed the plate.
Tyler Walker and Kaitlyn Richardson, both .400 hitters, were each 2-for-2 with a home run, driving in seven runs and walking thrice between the duo.
Pepper Gay got the start for the Illini, throwing into the third inning, before being replaced by Jackie Guy after allowing a grand slam. Guy threw the next three innings, giving up four runs on two hits and six walks with two strikeouts. Gay returned to the circle in the sixth to finish out the game, allowing five runs on six walks and two hits, striking out one in a total of three innings.
Sara Moulton continued to throw well for the Golden Gophers, capturing her 22nd victory in the complete game, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk. The Illini showed more discipline at the plate against Moulton, striking out just three times in the game as compared to 11 in the series opener.
The Golden Gophers manufactured a run to start the scoring in the bottom of the second. Erica Meyer led off with a walk, then stole second on the first pitch. Eckstrom put her one third with a sacrifice bunt, and Alex Davis drove her in on a squeeze bunt down the third base line. Allie Bauch then turned two on Erica Smyth, fielding the grounder at second, tagging Davis, then flipping to first for the GDP to end the inning.
The Illini tied the score in the top of the third with three singles and an RBI groundout. Linnea Detrick started it off with a one-out single on a popup that dropped in between the pitcher and second baseman. Jade Smith followed with a swinging bunt single down the third base line, and Alex Booker then loaded the bases with a single through the right side. Allie Bauch then tied the game at one with an RBI groundout to short, as pinch runner Dana Sullivan hustled home too quickly for Walker to have a play at the plate.
Gay had two strikes on each of the first three batters in the bottom of the third, but each was awarded a free base on a walk, a hit batter and another walk, to load the bases for the Gophers' leading hitter, Kaitlyn Richardson. The slugging third baseman took Gay's 3-1 pitch yard, knocking a grand slam off the scoreboard in left center to make it 5-1 Minnesota. Gay then issued a four pitch walk to Dorle, leading to a call to the bullpen and sending Jackie Guy to the circle. Guy got three of the next four batters to fly out to center to finish off the inning with no further score.
Jenna Mychko led off the top of the fifth with a walk. Detrick pushed pinch runner Johnson to second with a ground out, then Smith made it first and third, getting on by a fielding error by the first baseman. Booker then hit an RBI blooper into right center. She was robbed of being credited with a hit as Smith had to hang back in case the ball was caught, then couldn't make it to second in time after it dropped in, but Booker still got the job done, scoring Johnson. Bauch kept it going with a single to left, and Perez then hit a slow chopper to second. Smyth flipped to second, but the speedy Bauch beat the play, and Booker hustled all the way around to score, chipping away at the Gopher lead, 5-3.
Guy got the first two batters of the fifth out, but then walked the next two to bring Tyler Walker to the plate. Walker hit a towering foul ball to the left side that stayed in play but dropped in between Booker and Davis. She then made the Illini pay for the missed opportunity, driving the next pitch over the wall in right center to put Minnesota ahead 8-3.
Guy surrendered a leadoff walk to start the sixth, then Gay came back in to replace her in the circle. Gay walked the first batter she faced, then muffed the throw fielding a sacrifice bunt to load the bases. Eckstrom followed with a sacrifice fly to center, making it 9-3 Gophers.
Moulton set the Illini down in order in the top of the seventh, to complete the Big Ten series sweep with a 9-3 victory.
Illinois is back at Eichelberger Field on Wednesday, April 17, when the Orange and Blue host in-state foe DePaul in a rematch of the Illini's 4-1 victory in Houston back in February. The game will be broadcast online on the Big Ten Digital Network with a start time of 4 p.m.