March 31, 2013
EVANSTON, ILL. – Minnesota dropped the final game of its three-game Big Ten series at Northwestern on Sunday afternoon, as the Wildcats held off a late rally by the Gophers to record a 4-2 win at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
Trailing 4-1 heading into the seventh inning, Minnesota got a single from sophomore shortstop Tyler Walker and a pair of walks drawn by sophomore third baseman Kaitlyn Richardson and junior center fielder Bree Blanchette to load the bases with one out.
All three runners advanced on a passed ball, with Walker scoring from third to cut the Wildcats’ advantage to 4-2, but Northwestern pitcher Amy Letourneau recorded a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
Letourneau opened the scoring by hitting a two-run home run to center field in the bottom of the first inning, while working a complete-game five-hitter in the circle for the Wildcats (16-13, 2-3 Big Ten).
Minnesota (21-12, 4-2 Big Ten) had its chances, as it drew eight walks against Letourneau, but the Gophers were unable to come up with timely hits in their sixth-straight road game to open conference play.
The Gophers cut NU’s early lead to 2-1 with a run in the top of the second inning. Sophomore designated player Hannah Granger lined a single over the third baseman and into left, and senior Kelsey Klucas entered to pinch run for Granger.
With one out, sophomore second baseman Erika Smyth moved Klucas to second with a sacrifice bunt, and sophomore left fielder Erica Meyer followed with an infield single off the glove of the NU first baseman to move Klucas to third and give the Gophers runners at the corner with two outs.
Meyer stole second base with Walker batting, giving Minnesota a pair of runners in scoring position, and Walker lined a single into center to drive in Klucas. But the inning ended when Meyer was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second base.
The Wildcats added single runs in the second and third to stretch their lead to 4-1, and that remained the score all the way to the seventh, when the Gophers rally came up just short.
Junior right-hander Sara Moulton took the loss in the circle to fall to 18-8 on the season. Moulton worked the first four innings, allowing five hits and four earned runs, while striking out three and walking three.
Offensively, Walker went 2-for-3 with a run batted in and scored one run, but Minnesota was held without an extra base hit just one day after having 11 of its 14 hits go for extra bases in a 14-9 win.
Minnesota returns home to play host to its first home games of the season, as it faces arch-rival Wisconsin in a three-game Big Ten series beginning on Friday at 6:00 p.m. CT. The Gophers’ next game will be the 2,000th in the program’s history.
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