April 29, 2012
In a pitching battle that saw only seven combined hits, the University of Minnesota softball team suffered another heartbreaker as Penn State pulled off its third-comeback victory of the weekend to record the unlikely sweep over the Golden Gophers.
The Gophers (28-19, 7-11 Big Ten) came out strong for the third-straight day as they put together a two-out rally in the top of the second as Alex Davis and Dannie Skrove each battled to draw walks. In the ensuing at bat, Smyth flashed her powerful bat as she launched a three-run homer down the left field line, giving the Maroon and Gold the first lead of the game.
Penn State (17-27, 8-10 Big Ten) would get their offense going in the bottom of the third as pitcher Lisa Akamine, who reached on a walk, came around to score the first PSU run on a wild pitch by Sara Moulton. The Nittany Lions would end up loading the bases, but Moulton held strong by striking out back-to-back batters and then popping out Kailyn Hatfield to escape the bases-loaded threat.
PSU was finished as they came back in the fourth to plate another run on an Alyssa Sovereign double down the right field line, making the score 3-2 in favor of the Gophers.
After producing only two base runners since the Smyth three-run blast, Minnesota threatened to extend its lead in the seventh as Davis received a lead-off walk. Alex Pafko, who pinch ran for Davis, was pushed to second on a Skrove ground out to third. Smyth would walk in the next at bat while Bree Blanchette followed with a sacrifice bunt to bump the runners on second and third. The Golden Gophers would have the bases loaded for Erica Meyer after Tyler Walker was intentionally walked, but Meyer went down swinging to end the top of the inning.
The Golden Gophers went into the bottom of the seventh looking to avoid another Nittany Lion comeback, but Penn State's late rally was too much for the young Minnesota squad.
Minnesota began the inning by getting a quick fly out to left, but Cassidy Bell followed with a single over Walker at short. Bell would be out on the next play as Alyssa Renwick reached first on a fielder's choice and served as the game-tying run. Penn State would get the game-winning run on base as Kailyn Johnson singled through the left side. With runners on first and second, Moulton would throw her second wild pitch of the game to advance each base runner into scoring position.
The Gophers' offense struggled against Akamine as they recorded 10 strikeouts and only notched two hits.
With the stage set, Lauren Yao battled through a nine-pitch at bat to produce a single to left field, which scored both Nittany Lion base runners for the walk-off victory.
Moulton was charged with the loss as she allowed five hits, five walks and fanned three batters.
The Maroon and Gold will look to shake off the unlikely Penn State sweep next weekend as they return home to face Purdue for a three-game series. The first two games will be played on Saturday, May 5 beginning at noon with the series finale taking place on Sunday, May 6.
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