April 28, 2012
The University of Minnesota softball team let a pair of games slip away in Happy Valley as Penn State pulled off two comeback victories on Saturday to defeat the Golden Gophers. Game one saw the Nittany Lions inch back to pull off the 6-5 seven-inning victory while the second game showcased the Maroon and Gold relinquishing four runs in a two-inning span to fall 4-3 in extra innings.
Game One: Penn State 6, Minnesota 5
The Golden Gophers took advantage of some wild pitching by the Nittany Lions to lead most of the game, but PSU battled back to pull off a 6-5 comeback victory in the seventh inning.
Minnesota proved to be patient at the plate in the first inning as Erica Meyer and Kaitlyn Richardson each received a one-out walk. The two would advance to second and third on a passed ball before freshman Madie Eckstrom dribbled a ball through the middle of the infield to score Meyer, giving the Gophers a 1-0 lead.
The Maroon and Gold would plate two more runs in the third as they were granted five-straight, two-out walks. Kari Dorle and Eckstrom would score on the pitching errors by Penn State, making the score 3-0.
Sophomore pitcher Sara Moulton looked to be hitting stride as she entered the bottom of the fourth without allowing a hit, but the PSU lineup was waiting to explode.
The Nittany Lions notched their first hit in the fourth as Kasie Hatfield reached on an infield single. Relief pitcher Lisa Akamine would follow with another infield single to load the bases for Liz Presto. The sophomore third baseman would battle Moulton at the plate before belting a base-clearing double to right center, which knotted the game up 3-3.
Moulton threw four and two-thirds in the game while allowing eight hits and fanning four batters. Alissa Koch would come in relief in the fifth and throw one and a third innings while Kelsey Kimminau pitch one-third of an inning.
The Golden Gophers would claim two of the runs back in the top of the fifth as Eckstrom and Skrove, who each singled to lead off the inning, were scored on a Bree Blanchette single through the middle infield. The Gophers carried a two-run lead into the bottom half of the inning.
Penn State would make it a one-run contest in the bottom of the fifth as they tallied four-straight hits to start the inning. Lauren Yao would be credited with one RBI as she singled in Cassidy Bell. Minnesota would only surrender one run as Hatfield lined into a double play, and Gopher relief pitcher Alissa Koch fanned Presto to end the threat.
The Nittany Lions outhit the Gophers 12-7 in the game, but only six of their hits actually left the infield.
With a one run lead, the Gophers hoped to add some insurance runs in the seventh, but after Eckstrom singled to lead off the inning, Minnesota was unable to move her around and advance their lead.
Eckstrom went 3-for-3 at the plate with one RBI while Blanchette went 1-for-2 at the plate with two RBI. Tyler Walker also chipped in a pair of hits.
PSU would rally in the seventh as Hatfield began the inning with a double and would advance to third on a wild pitch. Presto would follow with a RBI single through the left side to even the score 5-5. The Nittany Lions would cap off their comeback victory as Bell blooped a ball over second to score the game-winning run.
Game Two: Penn State 4, Minnesota 3 (8 innings)
The Maroon and Gold looked as if they were going to shake off the Penn State comeback victory in game two, but the Nittany Lions surged back again in the seventh to force extra innings en route to another comeback triumph.
Minnesota snagged the lead in the third inning as Walker belted a solo home run to left center. The homer was her eighth of the season and gave the Gophers a 1-0 lead.
The Golden Gophers lengthened its lead in the top of the fifth as Dorle hit a two-out single through the right side to plate Dannie Skrove and Walker, making the score 3-0.
Moulton again turned in a good outing as she kept the Nittany Lions hitless until the bottom of the fifth when Presto singles to right field. The Gopher defense would bend with a PSU runner reaching third, but Minnesota stopped the Penn State offense from notching a run.
With the score 3-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Maroon and Gold looked to cap off the day with a victory, but the Nittany Lions had one more surge left.
The Gophers would have two outs on Penn State as they had runners on second and third, but a bloop single down the right field line by Bell scored both runners. Smyth was on track to make the catch, but a collision with the umpire negated her chances on getting the final out. After a Moulton walk, PSU would notch the game-tying run on a Kailyn Johnson single to right.
Minnesota would escape the bottom of the seventh and head into extra innings where Richardson led off with a double to left field. The freshman third baseman would reach third on a Dorle groundout but was stranded as the next two Gophers struck out.
Richardson was the Gophers biggest threat at the plate as she went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. Dorle was credited with two RBI while Walker was given one on her solo homer.
Presto would start the Nittany Lion rally as she hit a one-out single through the left side. The sophomore would then advance to third on a Danee Collett single to center. The heroics came two at bats later as Alyssa Sovereign singled to left center, plating the game-winning run in Presto.
Moulton is charged with the loss as she threw seven and two-third innings with allowing eight hits, four runs and striking out six.
The Golden Gophers look to avoid the sweep tomorrow morning as they face Penn State on the Big Ten Network at 11 a.m.