Illinois and Iowa stage another classic battle
May 5, 2007
Iowa City, Iowa - Sports fans know them well. The throw-out-the-records type games where anything is possible and usually come down to the wire. Such historically are the games between Illinois and Iowa in softball. Saturday in Iowa City, Erin Riemersma delivered a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to lift the Hawkeyes to a 7-6 victory in a game that featured three ties and four lead changes.
Even with the wind blowing in from right field, the Illini, the nation's leader in home runs, and the Hawkeyes managed to deliver home runs. A few other balls to the gaps would have left the park on another day.
Illinois had 12 hits on the day, six for extra bases as the offense kept putting pressure on Iowa to respond. All nine batters in the Illinois order reached base, eight had at least one hit.
Iowa manufactured three runs on just two hits in the second inning to go in front 3-1, but in the top of the third, Illinois' Makenzie Smith sent a three-run home run to dead center, her 11th of the year, to give Illinois the lead back to the Illini at 4-3.
Quinn Morelock tied the score with a solo homer down the left field line, but Sydney Lisy's two out-run run-scoring double down the right field line again put Illinois in front 5-4.
Summer Downs and Colleen McLaughlin had back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score, and Iowa put runners on first and third with just one out in the sixth, but Claire DeVreese coaxed two fly outs.
With the game in extra innings in top of the eighth Illinois used three hits, including a lead-off double by Molly Lawhead (2 for-4) and a dropped third strike passed ball to take a 6-5 lead.
Iowa (37-20), however, used a one-out walk and the Riemersma blast to snatch the game away and clinch fourth place in the Big Ten. Illinois is now 30-24 overall, 7-8 and sixth in the league.
The two teams end the regular season with a single-game at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Pearl Field in what could be another dramatic finish.