March 27, 2011
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Score: No. 4 Michigan 7, Northwestern 4
Records: NU (14-9, 0-2 Big Ten), Michigan (31-2, 2-0 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: April 2, 2011 -- vs. Loyola (Chicago) (DH) (Evanston, Ill.), 1 p.m. CT
WATCH: Game Highlights
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern jumped on top early but a fifth-inning grand slam for No. 4 Michigan gave the Wolverines a 7-4 win over the Wildcats Sunday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
Northwestern falls to 14-9 overall on the season with its loss, 0-2 in the Big Ten. All nine of NU's defeats this year have come against teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 at the time of the contest. Michigan improves to 31-2 on the year, 2-0 in the conference with its win.
A pair of Wolverines reached base against Northwestern starter Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) in the top of the first via walks, but the freshman got out of the inning with a strikeout. In the bottom half of the frame, Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) led off with a single before eventually being caught in a rundown following a sharp grounder off the bat of Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga). Now with two outs in the inning, Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) put the Wildcats on top early, 2-0, with a bomb over the fence and into the teeth of a northerly breeze gusting in from right. The shot was her fifth of the season and the 38th of her career.
Albanese responded just the way a pitcher should after her team puts a crooked number on the board, recording a pair of strikeouts and setting the Michigan side down in order in the top of the second.
Both Albanese and Michigan starter Jordan Taylor exchanged 1-2-3 innings until the bottom of the third when NU struck again. Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) began a two-out rally when she glided a single into right field before stealing second. Monka then crushed a single through the third baseman to bring Thompson home and extend the advantage to 3-0.
Albanese found some trouble in the top of the fourth after a leadoff walk followed by a base hit -- the first hit surrendered by Albanese in eight innings after she tossed a no-hitter against Saint Mary's in her last outing. She was able to retire the next two Wolverines, but the third hit a weak flare just in front of second base that Allard was unable to corral with a dive from her shortstop spot. The hit brought both runners in and cut NU's lead to one, 3-2.
Michigan rallied again in the top of the fifth. Back-to-back one-out singles put a pair on base before Albanese issued a careful walk to Wolverine slugger Dorian Shaw. The next batter, however, hit a grand slam to put the visitors into the lead, 6-3.
NU got one of those runs back in the bottom half of the frame. Thompson again started a two-out rally with a single before stealing second. Monka joined Thompson on base via a walk then gave way to pinch runner Amanda Mehrsheikh (Chesterfield, Mo./Parkway Central). Batts then lined a single into center to plate Thompson and make it a 6-4 game, but the throw came in to third and eliminated Mehrsheikh to end the inning.
Senior Jessica Smith (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon) entered the circle in relief of Albanese in the top of the sixth, using just nine pitches to set Michigan down in order in the frame. In the bottom half, Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) led off with a rocket double to the fence in right center, but second base is where she stayed to send the game to the seventh.
In that seventh, Michigan tacked on a run when a leadoff single came around to score following a steal and a two-out single to center.
Albanese (3-3) went 5.0 innings, allowing six runs on five hits and four walks with seven Ks in the game. Smith went 2.0 frames of relief, giving up a run on two hits and a strikeout.
Batts had a 2-for-2 day at the plate with three RBIs while Thompson had a pair of hits, two steals and two runs.
Northwestern returns to action at 1 p.m. CT Saturday, April 2, with a nonconference doubleheader versus Loyola (Chicago) at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
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