April 5, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- No. 23 Northwestern scored all of its runs in the middle innings Saturday to gradually pull away from Iowa in a 6-4 victory in the first game of a Big Ten doubleheader at Bob Pearl Field.
Northwestern improves to 21-8 overall on the season with its win, 4-3 in the Big Ten. Iowa now is 9-17 on the year with its loss and also stands at 4-3 in the conference. The Wildcats and Hawkeyes return to action immediately in game two of today's twinbill.
Iowa recorded the game's first hit in the bottom of the first with one out, and Northwestern catcher Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) quickly hosed her trying to steal second to help Wildcats' starter Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union) face the minimum in the frame.
After drawing three walks in the first two innings of the game, Northwestern went ahead via a trio of base knocks in the top of the third. Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) led off with a beautiful infield single then stole the 133rd base of her career. One out later, Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) rifled a double into right-center that one-hopped the wall to drive in Allard. Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) softly singled to left to push Bast to third, then Iowa native Fran Strub (Coralville, Iowa/Clear Creek Amana) entered the game to run. On a double steal attempt, the throw to second got away allowing Bast to come in for a 2-0 NU lead.
Iowa struck back right away in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one away before a two-run double knotted the score. The Hawkeyes still had runners at second and third after the hit, but Wood was able to strand them there to keep the score tied.
NU took advantage of that fact to re-take the lead with a run in the top of the fourth. Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) was hit by the first pitch of the frame from Iowa starter Kayla Massey, then moved to second when the throw to that bag after a Julia Kuhn (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) sacrifice bunt attempt was not in time. Tonz moved both runners up a bag, then Allard slashed a single high off the infield dirt to allow LeBeau to come in to push the Wildcats back on top, 3-2.
Wood worked a shutdown 1-2-3 frame in the bottom of the fourth before NU poured three more runs on the offensive fire in the fifth. DiPrima led off with a single and moved to second when Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) drew her third walk of the game. Two outs later, pinch hitter Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) drew a bases-loading walk to complete setting the table. Then, with Tonz at the plate, a wild pitch first scored DiPrima before Tonz drove a two-run double to the gap in right-center to make Northwestern's lead 6-2.
The Hawkeyes, who struggled mightily to score in the preconference portion of play but have since picked up the pace in seven B1G games, struck back again in the bottom of the fifth. A leadoff double turned into an unearned run after a fielding error on a base hit to the outfield, but Wood was able to limit the damage to a single score to keep the Wildcats' lead at 6-3 after five complete.
Iowa scored 48 total runs in 19 preconference games, but already has 32 in seven Big Ten contests this year.
The score remained the same heading into the bottom of the seventh. Wood began the inning with her 10th strikeout of the contest before allowing a one-out walk and a single. The next batter hit a ground ball that got just through the right-side infield hole to plate one, then, with the tying run on base, Wood got a strikeout and an infield pop up to end the game.
Wood (11-3) earned the complete-game win, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits and three walks with a career-high-tying 11 strikeouts.
Allard and DiPrima both were 2-for-4 in the game for NU with Allard swiping a pair of bags in addition to recording a run scored and an RBI. Allard now has 134 career stolen bases, seven away from No. 25 on the NCAA Division I all-time list. Tonz drove in a pair to break open the contest in the fifth.
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