April 17, 2010
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Alumni Field)
Score: No. 2 Michigan 11, Northwestern 7
Records: NU (18-17, 4-4 Big Ten), Michigan (32-5, 8-0 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: April 18, 2010 -- at Michigan, 2 p.m. CT (Big Ten Network)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- No. 2 Michigan jumped out to an 8-0 lead after three innings of play Saturday at Alumni Field, but Northwestern fought back with a five-run fourth and two scores in the sixth before eventually falling short in its wild comeback bid, 11-7.
Northwestern now is 18-17 overall on the season with its loss, 4-4 in the Big Ten. Michigan is 32-5 on the year with its win, 8-0 in the conference.
In the top of the first, freshman Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) worked a full-count leadoff walk against Michigan starter Jordan Taylor before immediately stealing her 25th base of the year in 26 attempts. With Kristin Scharkey (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) at the plate, an illegal pitch call on Taylor moved Allard to third with no outs, but Taylor was able to escape the inning unscathed.
After squashing the opportunity for the Wildcats, the Wolverines put the game's first runs on the board in the bottom half against Northwestern starter Lauren Delaney (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias). A couple of hits and three walks before the big blow, a bases-clearing double, made it 5-0 in favor of Michigan after the first inning.
The Wolverines again loaded the bases with no outs in the second frame, scoring two on a double down the left-field line to make it 7-0 before Delaney was able to end the frame with three straight jam-shot pop ups on the infield.
Allard ripped Northwestern's first hit of the game with two outs in the top of the third, crushing a liner into right field, but she was called out on a steal to end the frame.
Michigan got its eighth run of the game when a runner on third came home following a Northwestern error. The score chased Delaney from the circle in favor of Jessica Smith
(Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon), who quickly put the Wolverines down on a pair of fly outs.
Delaney (9-12) went 2.1 innings in the game, allowing eight runs on six hits and six walks with three strikeouts.
In the top of the fourth, the Wildcats took a massive bite out of the Wolverines' lead by putting a five-spot on the board. Scharkey led off with a sharp single through the left side of the infield. Adrienne Monka (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) followed with a five-pitch walk to push Scharkey to second with no outs. Senior Aly Euler (River Forest, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) relieved Monka at first as a pinch runner. Michelle Batts (Bloomingdale, Ill./Glenbard North) then put a big bounding ball in play to first, and the throw went to second to attempt a double play, but it was mishandled to make everyone safe and allow Scharkey to come all the way in to score.
Later on, with runners now at first and second and one out, Emily Haug (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) ripped a double down the right-field line to plate Euler and move Batts to third. Kelly Quinn (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) entered the game to run for Batts, then Kelly Dyer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport) drew a full-count walk to load the bases. Jordan Wheeler (Encinitas, Calif./Los Alamitos) drove in Quinn with an RBI groundout, then pinch hitter Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) dumped a single into right field to drive home both Haug and Dyer and make NU's deficit three, 8-5.
"We never gave up today," head coach Kate Drohan said. "I'm happy with the way we fought back, but we still made some mistakes that we will work on correcting for tomorrow."
Michigan tried to answer in the bottom of the fourth with three singles against Smith, but Dyer nailed a runner at the plate from center field for the third out of the inning. The play was Dyer's eighth outfield assist on the year.
Northwestern continued to press its momentum in the fifth with Allard's second single of the game and Monka's second walk, but no runs came of the plays. Michigan then pushed its lead back out to five, 10-5, with a two-out run-scoring triple followed by a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, both Nicole Pauly (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) and Wheeler worked walks against Taylor, the fifth and sixth free passes earned by the Wildcats in the game. Playing in front of a healthy home town contingent, Robin Thompson (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) slapped a two-out single into left to drive in Pauly. Wheeler moved to third and Thompson to second on the throw behind Pauly before an illegal pitch call on Taylor later on in the inning sent Wheeler across the plate to again cut the Wolverine lead to three, 10-7.
Michigan again fought back in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff home run to account for the final 11-7 score. NU went down quietly in its seventh inning.
Allard led NU at the plate with a 2-for-3 day including a walk and a steal. Lamberth drove in two for the Wildcats. Smith went 3.2 innings of relief, allowing three runs on seven hits with no walks and one strikeout.
Northwestern returns to action at 2 p.m. CT tomorrow (Sunday, April 18), in the second and final game of its series at No. 2 Michigan.
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