Mexicano Ties Home Run Record In Illinois' 16-8 Win Over Illinois State
April 16, 2008
URBANA, Ill. - Shortstop Angelena Mexicano made history and ended the game with one swing of the bat on Wednesday evening, blasting her 16th home run of the season to tie the school's single-season record and sealing Illinois' (24-23) 16-8 run-rule victory over the Illinois State Redbirds (18-16) in a slugfest at Eichelberger Field at Martin Stadium. The two teams combined for 27 hits, including home runs from designated player Katrina Ross and catcher Lana Armstrong, extending the Illini's streak to seven games with at least one home run.
"Our hitters have been really in tune and very resilient, so it was great to have a good offensive day, especially in front of a tremendous home crowd," head coach Terri Sullivan said. "We're an aggressive team and our hitters had a gameplan at the plate today. We got a few two-out hits and had contributions all throughout the lineup and those are the things that make the coaching staff proud."
Mexicano and third baseman Shanna Diller each hit 16 home runs last year to set a new school record. Including her three-run game-ending bomb in the bottom of the sixth, Mexicano finished the day 3-for-5 with four RBIs and five runs scored, reaching base safely in every plate appearance. The San Jose, Calif., native continues to tear up the career charts, as she has shattered the home run record with her 43rd long ball, while also taking over the top position with 366 total bases and tying Diller for first in history with 150 RBIs.
Ross was the first to go yard on the day, leading off the third with her seventh roun-tripper of the season. She also slapped a two-RBI double in the fourth, going 2-for-3 on the day with three RBIs and two runs scored. Armstrong matched Ross with her seventh of the season in the fifth, a three-run shot to left field as she finished the day 2-for-2 with five RBIs and two runs scored.
Ashley Wright (6-5) picked up the win after entering the game in the fourth and tossing two and two-thirds while giving up no runs and just three hits. Claire DeVreese got the start and lasted three and a third, allowing six earned runs on 11 hits.
"One of the biggest momentum changers defensively was when Ashley retired (the Redbirds) in order," Sullivan said. "I thought Claire pitched well early on and they made some adjustments, but she didn't let them hit the ball out of the park. They teamed up for a great victory which we're going to expect throughout the rest of the season."
The game was a battle from the first inning on, as Illinois State jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Illini responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning when Armstrong tallied her first RBI of the game with a base-knock. The Redbirds added another run in the top of the second, but the Orange and Blue put up a four-spot thanks to RBIs by four different Illini to take a 5-3 lead after two.
Illinois continued its scoring trend in the third on Ross's home run before Illinois State piled up five runs in the fourth to take an 8-6 lead. The Illini battled back with four runs in the bottom of the inning to re-take the lead. In addition to Ross's two-RBI double, centerfield Sarah Bryers and first baseman Audrey Gallien each drove in a run to give Illinois a 10-8 advantage.
With the lead, the Orange and Blue would never look back, as they put up away the Redbirds in order in the sixth tne wrapped up the game by scoring in each inning, putting three across in the fifth and again in the sixth thanks to Armstrong's and Mexicano's home runs to cap off the 16-8 victory.
The Illini finish up the nine-game home stretch this weekend as they return to Big Ten action, hosting Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Orange and Blue take on the Gophers on Friday at 6 p.m. and again on Saturday at noon before wrapping up the weekend on Sunday with a doubleheader against Wisconsin beginning at noon.