April 20, 2013
Site: University Park, Pa. (Beard Field)
Score: Northwestern 17, Penn State 14 (8)
Records: NU (24-16, 8-5 B1G), Penn State (11-29, 2-13 B1G)
Next NU Event: April 21, 2013 -- at Penn State (University Park, Pa.), Noon CT
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Northwestern and Penn State accounted for 31 runs on 28 hits and 18 walks Saturday in an extra-inning slugfest that saw both teams use eight combined pitchers by the fifth inning, but in the end the Wildcats plated three runs in the top of the eighth to take a 17-14 (8) victory and go up 2-0 in the series.
Northwestern improves to 24-16 overall, 8-5 in the Big Ten with its win while Penn State now is 11-29 on the year, 2-13 in the conference after its loss.
NU's 17 runs are the most it has scored in a single game since hanging 17 on Minnesota in a 17-8 (6) run-rule victory on March 30, 2008. NU has scored at least seven runs in each of its last 10 contests this season.
Northwestern failed to score in each of the first two innings Saturday en route to falling behind, 4-0, but scored in every inning thereafter to pick up the win. Conversely, Penn State scored in each of the first six innings and not at all in the last two.
The top four batters in the Wildcats order each had multiple RBIs while the Nos. 8 and 9 batters, Paige Tonz
(Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and Olivia Duehr
(Antioch, Ill./Antioch) each had a career-best four runs scored. The top five batters in the NU lineup had six plate appearances (Kristin Scharkey
(Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza) and Anna Edwards
(La Canada, Calif./La Canada) each had six at-bats) while Tonz recorded no official at-bats in five plate appearances, scoring four times on four walks while also recording a sacrifice bunt.
Sophomore Amy Letourneau (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) led NU at the plate with a 4-for-5 day including two doubles and three RBIs. Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored while Scharkey went 3-for-6 with a two RBIs and three runs scored. Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs, including a game-tying two-out RBI double in the top of the seventh. Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) drove in three and Duehr had two hits to go along with her four runs.
Penn State's first three batters of the game all reached against Northwestern starter Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette), who was able to recover to allow just one run out of the rally. Freshman Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) helped by reaching to catch a liner at second for the first out before an RBI groundout and a backwards strikeout ended the inning with the Wildcats trailing, 1-0.
After Penn State saved a Northwestern run with a leaping line drive catch to end the top of the second, the Nittany Lions added to their edge. After two batters reached, a three-run throwing error on a sacrifice attempt cleared the bases and gave PSU a 4-0 lead. One batter later, Kristen Wood (Trevor, Wis./Wilmot Union) entered the circle in relief and set down the side with a flyout and two strikeouts.
Northwestern battled back immediately. Tonz drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the third before moving to second on a Duehr single. Scharkey then hit a ball up the middle that was booted for a bases-loading error. Majam brought the first run home with a fielder's choice RBI grounder that erased Scharkey at second, then Bast blooped a single into center that scored Duehr to cut the NU deficit in half, 4-2.
At that point, Penn State relieved starter Jordan Wheatley with Marissa Diescher, who was able to strike out the next two Wildcats to end the rally.
The Nittany Lions got one of those runs back with a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the third to put their lead back out to three, 5-2. After the blast, PSU managed to load the bases before Wood got a flyout to Duehr in right to keep the NU deficit at three, 5-2.
In the top of the fourth, LeBeau, Tonz and Duehr walked to load the bases with no outs. Duehr's walk was particularly well earned, coming back from an 0-2 count with several stay-alive foul balls. Penn State elected to make another pitching change, bringing Rachel Myers -- who pitched the final 1.1 innings Friday night -- into the circle. Myers got a comebacker to erase LeBeau at home then a strikeout to threaten to end NU's rally with no runs scored.
Northwestern declined to acquiesce to the request, however, plating six runs before PSU could get that third out. Bast began the scoring with a two-run single to left before Letourneau sent a two-run double into the gap in left center. Edwards followed with a run-scoring double of her own before DiPrima brought Edwards in with a single back through the middle to put the Wildcats on top, 8-5, going into the bottom of the fourth.
Penn State responded right away with a no-out, three-run home run in the bottom half. Sammy Albanese (Belmont, Calif./Castilleja) then entered the circle in relief of Wood and shut down the side to keep the game tied, 8-8.
Northwestern added four more in the top of the fifth, again started by Tonz and Duehr walks. Penn State inserted its fourth pitcher of the contest, game one starter Macy Jones, into the circle and Scharkey greeted her with a bases-loading single. Majam then brought one home with a single before an error on a throw to the plate off a Bast ball was dropped for a run-scoring error. Letourneau brought another run in on her third base hit of the game before one final run scored on a wild pitch to give NU a 12-8 edge after four and a half innings.
Penn State cut its four-run deficit in half with a one-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fifth to prompt Letourneau to enter the circle in relief as the eighth pitcher used in the game between the two teams. She fanned the first two batters she faced to keep NU in the lead, 12-10, going into the sixth, where the Wildcats plated another.
LeBeau led off the inning with a single and moved to second on Tonz's sacrifice. Then, with two outs, Scharkey beat out an infield single on a play where the throw bounded into right field to allow LeBeau to come around for a 13-10 edge. Of course, Penn State scored again as it had in every previous inning, taking the lead in the game, 14-13, on a two-out run-scoring single followed by a two-run double and a go-ahead single.
In the top of the seventh, Bast was hit by the first pitch of the frame to begin the proceedings. Letourneau then crushed a liner to left, but it was hit right at the fielder for the first out. Then, with two outs, DiPrima smashed a double to the fence in left center and Bast used every ounce of speed she gained during fall workouts with sports performance coach Tyler Jorgensen to get home under the tag and tie the contest, 14-14.
Needing to keep Penn State from scoring in an inning for the first time all game long, Letourneau retired the Nittany Lions in order in the bottom of the seventh with the help of a pair of strikeouts to send the game to extras.
In the eighth, Tonz walked for the fourth time in the contest before moving to third on a Duehr double. Scharkey then nearly got her first-career home run on a triple that bounced off the very top of the wall in right to drive in both 'Cats in front of her. Majam gave Scharkey an easy final 60 feet to trot with a sacrifice fly to the track in right to give NU a three-run cushion, 17-14, going into the bottom of the eighth, when Letourneau allowed two base runners but no runs to close out the game.
Letourneau (16-9) earned the win, throwing 3.2 innings of relief and giving up four runs on four hits and three walks with six strikeouts.
Lamberth went one-plus innings in her start, giving up four runs (two earned) on two hits and four walks with a strikeout. Wood threw two-plus innings, giving up four runs on four hits and three walks with two Ks. Albanese tossed 1.1 innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk.
Northwestern and Penn State conclude their series at noon CT (1 p.m. local) tomorrow, Sunday, April 21.
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