Feb. 8, 2014
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Utah put together a six-run seventh-inning rally to take a three-run lead on Northwestern Saturday night at the Kajikawa Classic, but the Wildcats stormed back to earn an improbable 12-11 victory on a walk-off illegal pitch during an intentional walk attempt.
Northwestern improves to 2-1 on the season with its win while Utah falls to 1-2 with its loss.
The Wildcats sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning to inflict an early five-run onslaught. Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) led the offensive inning off with a bounder to short that was mishandled for an error, then the speedy fifth-year senior took off for second and swiped the 119th bag of her career to give her the all-time Wildcats record by herself. Later in the frame, a Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) single, an Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) double, an Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) single, an Andrea Filler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger) single and a Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) double -- all in a row -- made it a 4-0 game. An RBI groundout from Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) completed the five-run outburst.
Utah battled back with a similar rally in the top of the third, beginning with its first base hit of the game to lead off the frame against the NU starter Albanese. The Utes recorded four-straight singles to plate one run before a sharp grounder to LeBeau at second. LeBeau gloved it, tagged the runner heading to second and then flipped to first for a double play; though a run scored, those two outs killed any larger rally possibilities to keep the Wildcats on top, 5-2, heading to the bottom of the third.
Northwestern put together the game's next rally in the fourth when Allard and Majam both reached on singles, eventually getting to second and third with one out. Bast drove in Allard with an RBI groundout before DiPrima's third hit of the game went for an RBI single and a 7-2 Wildcats' advantage going to the fifth.
Utah again clawed back in the top of the fifth, this time via a two-out rally started by a triple and a ground-rule double before a serious of unfortunate events led to three runs that cut NU's lead down to two, 7-5.
Again, the Wildcats responded. Northwestern got four-straight hits from Filler, Albanese, LeBeau and Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) in the bottom of the fifth to regain a three-run edge. LeBeau got the RBI in that sequence for NU. Utah again changed pitchers again during that barrage, and the third Ute hurler was able to keep any more `Cats from crossing home.
Albanese, as she did after Utah's rally in the third, put together a super quick shutdown inning in the sixth in response to the Utes second scoring outburst. Albanese got a pair of strikeouts and an easy groundout to keep the Wildcats on top by three.
Sophomore Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union) entered the circle in relief of Albanese to start the seventh inning and found trouble immediately. Utah would eventually tie the game, 8-8, with one out and the bases still loaded when NU re-entered Albanese into the circle. The next batter hit a dying liner to left that fell just in front of Majam to put the Utes in the lead, 9-8, before a two-run single concluded the Utah surge with the Pac-12 program on top, 11-8.
Filler led off the bottom of the seventh with a hit to run her streak of reaching base to begin the year to 10-consecutive plate appearances, then gave way to pinch runner Fran Strub (Coralville, Iowa/Clear Creek Amana). Albanese reached on an error to push Strub to second, then LeBeau doubled down the left-field line to bring in Strub and represent the tying run at second base. Tonz followed with a first-pitch triple to the fence in right to tie the game. Utah then elected to intentionally walk Allard, but the move threw their pitcher off so much that she balked, allowing Tonz to run home with the winning score.
Albanese earned the win on her second go-round in the circle, finishing the entire game with 6.2 innings of work in which she allowed five runs (four earned) on 10 hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
At the plate, Filler continued to be a revelation with a 3-for-3 day. DiPrima also had three hits while LeBeau had two hits and three RBIs. Tonz went 2-for-3 and had two monster RBIs and the winning run. Allard scored twice and Bast drove in two.
Northwestern returns to action immediately at the Kajikawa Classic against Boise State in a scheduled 9 p.m. CT/8 p.m. MT first pitch.
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