Gay Brilliant on Senior Day But Illini Split Doubleheader
May 5, 2013
Urbana, Ill. - Senior pitcher Pepper Gay threw over 300 pitches without allowing an earned run in back-to-back complete games on Senior Day, but limited offense from the Illini and a pair of errors in the fourth inning of game one led to a doubleheader split with Ohio State. The Buckeyes plated three unearned runs in the first game to tie the series with a 3-0 victory, but the Illini used a walk-off RBI single by Katie Repole in game two to defeat the Buckeyes 1-0 in the season finale.
The Fighting Illini finish the regular season with a 22-26 overall record, placing sixth in the Big Ten at 11-12 in conference play. Ohio State ends the years 32-21, finishing eighth in the conference at 10-13.
"We have a saying within our program that `Winners Win,'" said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "We did not have much going with our offense today, but in the second game, we found a way to get the one run Pepper needed. Winners Win even when they are not at their best.
"Pepper had a couple of the best performances I have ever seen from her. She was a fearless competitor for her team today.
"A couple of big defensive plays made by Kylie, JD and Crash (Repole) were significant as the game went on. Crash did what I knew she would do after Jenna laid down a great sac. She won it for us. That's the type of player she is; give her the pressure!"
Gay Throws One-Hitter but Errors Lead to 3-0 Buckeye Victory
Senior pitcher Pepper Gay did not allow a hit until there were two outs in the seventh inning, but a pair of two-out errors in the fourth led to three unearned runs, as the Buckeyes ended the Illini's 10-game winning streak with a 3-0 final.
Remeny Perez went 3-for-3 with a double, Alex Booker hit a leadoff double in the sixth, and Jessica Davis singled in the fifth, but the Illini were unable to come up with a clutch hit with runners on to back up Gay in the circle.
Gay threw 201 pitches in the game, 138 for strikes, but gave up three unearned runs on one hit and five walks, striking out five. Alex DiDomenico surrendered five hits and a walk, but her nine strikeouts were key in earning the complete-game shutout.
Perez doubled off the wall in the leftfield corner to lead off the second inning, representing the first hit of the game for either team, but a pair of key strikeouts left her stranded on third.
Shaky defense in the top of the fourth allowed three unearned Ohio State runs to score without a Buckeye hit. McIntyre started the inning with a walk. A pair of ground outs moved her to third, then Gresham walked. She stole second, then Conrad grounded back to Gay for what should have been the third out, but Gay overthrew first, allowing the first run to score. Coletta walked and took second, and Saalfeld then grounded to third for what again should have been the final out, but Perkins threw it away as another two Buckeyes crossed the plate. Gay then struck out Prantl to end the inning, but not before the hitless Ohio State took a 3-0 lead.
Booker led off the top of the sixth with a double to left center. Perez roped her third hit of the day to make it first and third with one out, but the Illini could not get the run across and headed to the top of the seventh down 3-0.
Gay got Saalfeld to ground out and Prantl to fly out to begin the seventh inning, but on the 192nd pitch she threw, Watkins broke up the no-hitter with a single to right. McIntyre then flew out to end the inning.
DiDomenico retired the Illini in order in the bottom of the seventh, to secure the victory, despite the Buckeye offense mustering just one hit.
Repole Hits Walk-Off RBI to Give Illini 1-0 Victory in Season Finale
In her final game at Eichelberger Field, senior pitcher Pepper Gay hurled a three-hit shutout to secure the Illini the sixth seed for the 2013 Big Ten Tournament. Kylie Johnson went 3-for-3, but it took Illinois until the seventh inning to plate a run, as freshman Katie Repole smacked a walk-off RBI single with one out to send Jessica Davis across the plate and secure a 1-0 victory in the final game of the regular season.
Johnson and Brittany Sanchez led off the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles, but Johnson was caught stealing before Sanchez put the ball in play to keep Illinois off the board.
Perez and Davis both walked with no outs in the second, but the bottom of the order could not get that much-needed third hit, as the game remained scoreless.
Pepper Gay retired the first 11 Buckeyes of the game, before surrendering a four-pitch walk to McIntyre in the fourth. Pickett then broke up the no-hitter with a two-out single to left center, but Gay got Gresham to line out to right to end the inning, stranding two.
Prantl doubled to left center with one out in the sixth, but Gay was able to get the final two batters to fly out, stranding the leftfielder on second.
Pickett laced one towards the hole in the left side to lead off the top of the seventh, and though a diving Repole got a glove on it, she was safe with her second hit of the game. Greshman moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt, but Johnson made a spectacular diving catch in foul territory for the second out and Gay got Conrad to ground out to end the seventh with both teams still scoreless.
Davis laced a single to the gap in left center to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Bauch drew a walk, and Mychko put the pair in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Repole then came up with a clutch RBI single to leftfield to give the Illini a walk-off 1-0 victory in the final game at Eichelberger Field in 2013.
The official seeding for the Big Ten Tournament will be announced on Monday night, following the Nebraska-Penn State game, but the Illini should earn the No. 6 seed and expect to face No. 11 Penn State in the first round on Thursday, May 9, with a start time of 4:30 p.m. CT. The first two rounds of the tournament will be streamed for free on Nebraska's website, and the semifinals and finals will air live on the Big Ten Network. For complete coverage of the 2013 Big Ten Tournament, visit: http://www.huskers.com/bigtensoftball.