April 7, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – Minnesota captured the rubber match in its Big Ten weekend series with No. 23/25 Wisconsin, as it defeated the Badgers by a score of 8-0 in five innings to take two-of-three in its home-opening weekend.
The Gophers used a three-run first and a five-run third to bounce back after dropping the opening game of Sunday’s doubleheader.
“It was huge for us to be able to score those three runs in the first, because it changed our mindset after the first game,” head coach Jessica Allister said. “That allowed us to play more aggressively, and it made it easier for Sara (Moulton) to pitch with a lead.”
Senior catcher Kari Dorle got Minnesota’s three-run first inning started by lining a one-out single to center, and sophomore third baseman Kaitlyn Richardson put runners at first and second after she was hit in the back with a pitch.
Junior Kelsey Klucas entered to pinch run for Dorle at second base, and sophomore left fielder Erica Meyer gave the Gophers a 2-0 lead with a two-out triple to the gap in right center to score both Klucas and Richardson.
Minnesota then manufactured its third run by being aggressive on the bases. Sophomore designated player Madie Eckstrom drew a walk to put runners at the corners, and the Gophers then pulled off a double steal. Eckstrom broke for second, drawing a throw from Wisconsin catcher Whitney Massey.
Eckstrom was safe at second, and Meyer darted toward home, beating the return throw to the plate from the shortstop to make it 3-0. Eckstrom was then thrown out trying to advance to third, but the aggressive play allowed the third run to score.
The Gophers added five more runs in the third, with sophomore shortstop Tyler Walker leading off with a triple off the wall in right center. Richardson drew a four-pitch walk with one out, and immediately stole second base to put runners at second and third with one out.
Junior center fielder Bree Blanchette reached one a fielder’s choice grounder to the third baseman, who threw home to catch Walker trying to advance, but Richardson moved up to third on the play and Blanchette stole second to once again put runners at second and third.
Meyer walked to load the bases, and Eckstrom followed with a two-out single to center to score Richardson and Blachette. Sophomore second baseman Erika Smyth then drove a double over the head of the center fielder to score Meyer and move Eckstrom to third, and senior first baseman Alex Davis made it 8-0 with a two-run single to right field.
With her teammates providing plenty of run support, Moulton (20-8) settled in and pitched a shutout with seven strikeouts and just one walk to record her 20th victory of the season.
A total of eight Minnesota players collected a hit in the game, and Richardson and Meyer each scored twice for the Gophers. Meyer, Eckstrom and Davis each had two runs batted in, with Meyer and Walker each recording their first triples of the season.
Minnesota’s next games will take place on Wednesday in Lincoln, Neb., as the Gophers play a 4:00 p.m. doubleheader at Nebraska. Both games will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
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