April 15, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 10 Northwestern fought off a furious comeback by No. 23 Iowa to walk off with a 6-5, nine inning win in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
Northwestern improves to 24-8 on the year with the victory, 10-1 in the Big Ten. Iowa now is 33-10 on the year, 5-4 in the conference.
Iowa wasted little time making noise in the contest, putting runners at second and third with no outs following a pair of leadoff walks and a wild pitch. Northwestern starter Lauren Delaney (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) got a full-count swinging strikeout from the next batter before a foul pop out to Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) accounted for out No. 2. Iowa then loaded the bases before another Delaney K ended the inning with no runs across.
Senior Tammy Williams (Roscoe, Mo./Osceola) came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the first and crushed a low-line drive that sailed over the fence in left for a solo home run and a 1-0 Northwestern lead. Williams' blast was her team-best 11th of the year and the 53rd of her career, leaving her two shy of Garland Cooper's all-time NU record.
Iowa loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third, but a fly out to Jordan Wheeler (Garden Grove, Calif./Los Alamitos) and a strikeout by Delaney again ended the inning with no runs across for the Hawkeyes.
Wheeler led off the bottom of the third with a sharp single through the left side of the infield, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King). Iowa elected to intentionally walk Williams -- the eighth intentional pass of the season for the senior -- before both runners advanced on a Monka sacrifice bunt, but the inning would end there.
Delaney carried a no-hitter through 4.1 innings before Iowa got a single through the left side of the infield to put runners at first and second with one out. The next batter hit a grounder toward the same spot that Thompson dove to glove, but the runner beat the tag attempt to third to load the bases on the fielder's choice. A deep sacrifice fly to left center plated the runner at third to knot the game, 1-1.
Northwestern took advantage of an Iowa mistake in the bottom of the fifth to rip the lead back with a two-out rally. With two gone, Thompson laid down a bunt and appeared to be thrown out, but after a meeting the umpires ruled that the second baseman covering did not touch the bag, resulting in an error. Williams then was hit by a Brittany Weil pitch before Monka hit a soaring fly ball that the wind held up in the air for what seemed like a full minute before it finally fell into the bleachers in left for a three-run home run and a 4-1 NU lead.
Monka's blast tied Williams for the team lead on the season with 11, and was followed by a Michelle Batts' (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) solo blast that also was of the soaring variety, this one sneaking inside the right-field pole. The home run was Batts' fifth of the season and the 18th of her career.
Iowa immediately came back to erase NU's lead in half in the top of the sixth, turning a pair of leadoff walks into two runs on a two-out double. The next batter then hit a home run to again tie the score, 5-5. Delaney ended the frame with her 10th strikeout of the game.
Neither team scored in the seventh to send the contest into extra frames, where Delaney set the Hawkeyes down in order for the first time in the game. Delaney recorded 13 strikeouts through eight innings, giving her 899 K's for her career.
Erin Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the eighth, but nothing came of it for the Wildcats.
Iowa threatened hard in the top of the ninth, getting runners to second and third with one out. Delaney then notched a strikeout -- her 14th of the game to tie her single-game high for the season and give her 900 Ks in her career -- before Iowa tried to bunt for a hit. Delaney covered the bunt and fired to Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) to end the frame with the score still tied.
Kelly Quinn (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) led off the bottom of the ninth with a bounding ball to second, but hit off the fielder's glove and into the outfield for an error. Quinn alertly sped all the way to second on the play before being replaced by pinch runner Aly Euler (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest). Wheeler sacrificed Euler to third before pinch hitter Emily Haug (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) crushed a single off the second basemen into left to end the game.
Delaney moved to 23-7 on the year with the win, allowing five runs on three hits. She battled through 16 walks to also strike out 14.
Williams scored twice for NU while Monka drove in three.