Feb. 24, 2013
Site: Cathedral City, Calif. (Big League Dreams Pawtucket Field)
Score: Northwestern 10, LIU Brooklyn 9
Records: NU (8-6), LIU Brooklyn (2-11)
Next NU Event: March 1-3, 2013 -- Easton Invitational (Fullerton, Calif.)
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. -- For two innings Sunday morning at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the offenses for Northwestern and LIU Brooklyn were unstoppable. Once the pitchers settled in, NU needed one more magical comeback in the desert and it got it, scoring twice in the seventh for a 10-9 victory.
The win gives Northwestern a perfect 5-0 record at the Nutter Classic, its first 5-0 weekend at a pre-conference tournament since the Worth Invitational at Cal State Fullerton in 2011. NU has won seven games in a row and now is 8-6 overall on the season. LIU Brooklyn falls to 2-11 on the year with its loss.
Northwestern scored runs in the sixth inning or later in all five of its Nutter Classic wins, coming from behind three times in the seventh while twice breaking late ties.
The first two innings resembled the Wild West of Wyatt Earp with winds blowing straight out to left-center whipping up dirt and dust while both teams combined for 13 runs and 17 hits -- again, in just two innings. Sheriff..err sophomore Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) entered the circle in the bottom of the second to finally restore some order to the chaotic California desert, ushering in an era of peace that saw her retire at one point 11 in a row from the second to the sixth save for a one-out error in the third.
LIU Brooklyn broke through for two in the bottom of the sixth against Letourneau, then NU broke back for two in the top of the seventh. Letourneau was able to strand two Blackbirds at second and third when the game ended to pick up the win, moving to 5-3 on the season with 6.0 innings of relief in which she allowed two runs on three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.
Eschewing the late-inning offense that marked the first four Northwestern games at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the Wildcats jumped ahead 2-0 right away in the top of the first of an exceptionally high-scoring game on Sunday. With two outs, Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) and Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) collected back-to-back singles before moving up on a passed ball. Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) then hit a ball between first and second that the second baseman dove for and knocked down before throwing to first from the seat of her pants, but it was too difficult to corral and went for a 2-run single.
Long Island came right back in the bottom half against Northwestern starter Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union), plating a pair of runs and loading the bases again with no outs, which necessitated inserting junior Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) into the circle in relief. The Blackbirds would plate two more in the inning before it finally ended with LIU Brooklyn on top, 4-2.
Northwestern stormed back itself in the top of the second. Letourneau, Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and Aubrie May (La Mesa, Calif./Grossmont) had three-straight singles to begin the frame, scoring one Wildcat. Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) then cleared the bases with a double to center that put NU back on top, 5-4.
The inning continued one out later with a Bast single that brought Scharkey in to make it 6-4 before the frame finally came to an end.
LIU Brooklyn started the bottom half of the second with four-straight singles to knot the score again, 6-6, and cause Letourneau to enter the circle in relief with no outs and two runners on base. One run would cross before the sophomore struck out the side to leave the bases loaded and keep the Wildcats' deficit at just one run, 7-6, going to the third.
Northwestern made a bid to find the scoreboard again in the top of the third. Letourneau was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame before Tonz drew a walk. May then sacrificed both up a base before a couple of good LIU Brooklyn defensive plays ended the threat.
Letourneau shut down the Blackbirds in the bottom of the third, but the Wildcats had no thoughts of quieting their bats. With the first swing of the top of the fourth, Bast sent a high flying home run to left to knot the score, 7-7, with her fourth home run of the season and the 22nd of her career.
Letourneau again had a shut down fourth before NU re-took the lead in the fifth. Tonz led off with a full-count walk before May's second successful sacrifice of the game. Scharkey then legged out a triple that split the gap in left center to put the Wildcats up 8-7.
LIU Brooklyn broke Letourneau's spell in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. Letourneau struck out the next batter, but the next Blackbird to the plate singled into center to bring in a pair and put LIU Brooklyn back in front, 9-8. Later, with two outs and runners at second and third, Majam made an fantastic play on a ball dying in front of her to keep the deficit at just one run.
In the top of the seventh, Scharkey was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame before Majam beat out a bunt single. Bast then sent a deep fly to right that was caught, allowing Scharkey to tag up and move to third. Then DiPrima pulled a single through the right-side hole to move Majam around to third, bringing Scharkey across the plate to tie the game, 9-9.
Later, with two outs in the frame, Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) poked a single into right to bring in Majam and give Northwestern the lead back, 10-9, going into the bottom of the seventh. In that frame, the leadoff batter reached on an error before Letourneau got a strikeout. Then, after a single, a groundout moved both runners up a base but Letourneau got the final batter to fly out to Majam in left to finally end the nearly three hour game.
Bast went 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs while Scharkey was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs. DiPrima had two hits and two runs, Lamberth had a pair of base knocks, Edwards drove in two and Tonz crossed home twice, as well.
Wood was charged with four runs on four hits in her start while Albanese went 1.0+ innings and gave up three runs on five hits with a strikeout.
Northwestern returns to action March 1-3 at the Easton Invitational (formerly the Worth Invitational and DeMarini Invitational) hosted by Cal State Fullerton in Fullerton, Calif.
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