March 30, 2013
WATCH: Game Highlights on Wildcats All Access!
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Sharon J. Drysdale Field)
Score: Minnesota 14, Northwestern 9
Records: NU (15-13, 1-3 Big Ten), Minnesota (21-11, 4-1 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: March 31, 2013 -- vs. Minnesota (Sharon J. Drysdale Field), Noon CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Minnesota leapt out to a huge lead against Northwestern Saturday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field, several times flirting with a run-rule victory before the Wildcats fought back and eventually fell 14-9.
NU falls to 15-13 overall on the season, 1-3 in the Big Ten with its loss. Minnesota now is 21-11 on the year with its win, 4-1 in the B1G.
Minnesota scored first Saturday afternoon on its first hit of the series. After a one-out walk from Northwestern freshman starter Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union), the Gophers got a two-run home run to take a 2-0 lead. In Friday's series opener, NU sophomore Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) had collected a no-hitter for the Wildcats.
Northwestern responded by getting on the board itself in the bottom half of the frame. Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) led off the inning with an infield single before being erased on a fielder's choice grounder off the bat of Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire). With two outs, Majam stole second and moved to third when the throw down sailed into center, enabling her to cross the plate when Letourneau beat out an infield single of her own deep in the hole at short.
The Gophers got that run back with a one-out solo home run in the second, which prompted Wildcats' head coach Kate Drohan to insert senior Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) into the circle in relief. Minnesota would add two more runs on a two-out extra-base hit to make the score 5-1.
Minnesota continued to push, adding four more runs in the third. With two outs in that frame, junior Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) entered the circle in relief, giving up one more before ending the scoring with NU trailing 9-1.
Northwestern did its utmost to battle back right away with a pair of runs. Majam and Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) led off the bottom of the third with singles before Minnesota starter Sara Moulton issued a four-pitch walk to Letourneau to load the bases. A wild pitch moved everyone up a bag and brought Majam home with a tremendous slide around a waiting tag. Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) then drove Bast in with an RBI groundout to the right side that the Gopher second baseman made an incredible wide-ranging play on.
Minnesota would not go away in this one, sending two more home runs over the fence in the fourth to extend back into run-rule territory, 12-3.
Wood re-entered the game in the circle in the top of the fifth and held the Gophers scoreless for the first time in the contest, and the Wildcats would not go quietly in the pleasant spring afternoon. Bast and Letourneau led off the fifth with singles before Edwards banged a double into the gap in left. Bast scored easily but trail runner Fran Strub (Coralville, Iowa/Clear Creek Amana) was thrown out at the plate to keep the game in a run-rule situation, 12-4. Edwards moved to third on the throw home.
The Edwards hit also knocked Minnesota ace Moulton out of the circle for the second-straight game. Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) lifted a fly ball into left against Moulton's replacement that likely would have been deep enough to plate Edwards anyway, but it was dropped for an error allowing everyone to be safe and keeping the game going at 12-5 to the sixth.
The Gophers did not quit in their pursuit of the run-rule, getting a leadoff home run to make the score 13-5. The Wildcats were equally intense in their fight to avoid it. In the bottom half, Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) drew a one-out walk before Scharkey shot her second single of the game through the left side of the infield. With two outs, Bast singled back up the middle to bring one run home before Letourneau uncorked a massive home run to right to cut the NU deficit all the way down to four, 13-9. The shot was her fourth of the season and the 12th of her career.
Minnesota tacked on one final run in the top of the seventh with a one-out sacrifice fly to left, then put its third pitcher of the game into the circle to try and close out the victory. DiPrima greeted the new hurler with a double to the fence in left on the first pitch before giving way to pinch runner Jessica Guffey (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain). Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L./Richards) followed with an infield single, but Guffey was hung off the bag for a rundown first out. Minnesota then was able to escape any further damage to claim a 14-9 victory.
Wood (0-2) took the loss, throwing 4.1 total innings and allowing five runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts. Lamberth worked 1.1 frames of relief and surrendered six runs on seven hits with a K. Albanese also had 1.1 innings of relief work, giving up three runs on three hits and two walks with two Ks.
Letourneau was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with four RBIs, Bast finished 3-for-4 with three runs, Majam scored three times, Scharkey had two hits and Edwards had two RBIs to lead NU's offense.
Northwestern and Minnesota conclude their series at noon CT tomorrow, Sunday, March 31, at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
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