May 3, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- For the second straight day, Northwestern celebrated Senior Weekend in walk-off run-rule fashion, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to defeat Michigan State, 9-1 (6), on Saturday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
Northwestern now is 31-15 overall on the season with its victory, 13-9 in the Big Ten. Michigan State falls to 12-35 with its loss and currently stands 4-18 in the conference. The two teams meet for the 2014 regular season finale at noon CT tomorrow, Sunday, May 4. Arrive early as Northwestern honors its six Seniors on Senior Day about 20 minutes prior to first pitch.
Northwestern began offensively right where it left off in Friday's run-rule victory. With one out in the bottom of the first, senior Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) ran her current hitting streak to 12 games with a "doink" single to center to quote the WNUR 89.3 FM student broadcasters calling the game. Majam stole second and moved to third when the throw down got away. Senior Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) then drew a four-pitch walk and stole second as well to put runners at second and third.
Later, with two outs, Anna Edwards (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) drove a slicing double to the fence in right field to bring both 'Cats on base around for a 2-0 Northwestern lead. The inning continued when Brianna LeBeau (Worth, Ill./H.L. Richards) was struck by a pitch and Andrea Filler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger) put a ball in play that was mishandled for a bases-loading error, but Michigan State was able to make the out on the next grounder to escape a potentially nasty situation.
Freshman starting pitcher Nicole Bond (Clayton, N.C./Clayton) fanned the side in the top of the second to reach five strikeouts in the contest very quickly. NU then continued its scoring in the second inning. Julia Kuhn (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and moved to second on an Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley) productive groundout. That extra base proved to be nice when Majam laced her second hit of the game into left field to bring Kuhn around and extend the Wildcats' lead to 3-0.
Michigan State got its first hit of the game with two outs in the fourth against Bond, but the freshman's senior catcher Paige Tonz (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) picked her up by hosing the runner trying to steal to end the inning.
Allard led off a three-run fourth with a single and then stole her 29th base of the year. Majam put a ball in play that was booted for an error, moving Allard to third and freeing up second base for Majam to swipe herself. Bast then hit a single past the shortstop, moving Majam to third and driving Allard home. With the score now 4-0, Bast stole second for the third Wildcats' steal of the inning, putting runners at second and third still with no outs.
Olivia Duehr (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) drove Allard in with an RBI groundout, then LeBeau LeSmoked a line-drive into left for a run-scoring single to make NU's edge 6-0 heading to the fifth.
Michigan State broke through on the scoreboard for the first time in the series with back-to-back one-out doubles in the fifth inning. Bond allowed just the one run when she matched her career high for strikeouts with her ninth to end the frame with the score 6-1.
Northwestern responded to MSU's back-to-back doubles in the top of the fifth by leading off the bottom half with its own back-to-back doubles. Filler began the sequence with a one-hop double to the fence in right center before giving way to pinch runner Krista Williams (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley). Tonz then crushed her own double over the head of the right fielder to drive home Williams for a 7-1 NU lead going to the sixth inning.
With the score the same in the bottom of the sixth, Majam beat out an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error on the play to begin the proceedings. Bast joined her on base via a four-pitch walk, then Andrea DiPrima (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) ripped a two-run single into center to drive both of her senior teammates in to end the game early.
Bond (6-0) remained perfect on the year, allowing one run on four hits and a walk with a career-high-tying nine strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
Majam led NU at the plate with three hits, three runs and two steals one day after she drove in three. Bast also had a career-best tying three runs. She and Majam each extended their current hitting streaks to 12 games. DiPrima was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Edwards also knocked in a pair.
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