Iowa Splits Doubleheader at Illinois


March 22, 2014

Final Stats

Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Iowa scored a season-high 10 runs to win the first game of its doubleheader at Illinois, 10-7, but fell to the Fighting Illini, 4-3 in eight innings, in game two. The Hawkeyes won their Big Ten-opening series, two games to one.

Iowa ends the weekend with a 2-1 Big Ten mark and a 7-14 overall record. Illinois is 1-2 in conference action and 15-9 overall.

The Hawkeye offense got a hot start in game one. Brianna Luna and Claire Fritsch started the contest with back-to-back singles and Erin Erickson followed with a walk to load the bases for Megan Blank with no outs. Blank punched a single through the right side of the infield to give Iowa an early 2-0 advantage.

Illinois matched Iowa’s run total, scoring two runs on three hits in the bottom of the first inning. An Alex Booker single followed by a Jess Perkins triple produced the first run. A Ruby Rivera single plated the second Illini run to even the contest, 2-2.

Iowa answered with a four run drive in the top of the second inning to regain control of the contest, 6-2. A Whitney Repole walk, Holly Hoffman double and Alyssa Navarro base on balls juiced the bases for the Hawkeyes. Luna capitalized on the RBI opportunity, scoring a run with a sacrifice fly to right. Following a Fritsch walk which reloaded the bases, Erickson drove in a Hawkeye run with a single up middle. Navarro was gunned down at the plate for the second out. Blank cleared the bases on the next play with her second triple of the season.

Following a scoreless third inning, Iowa put another run on the board in the top of the fourth. Luna reached base with a walk and advanced to third on an Erickson fielder’s choice. Erickson took off to second during the next at bat and was caught stealing, but Luna touched home on the play to put Iowa ahead, 7-2.

The Illini got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth with a Jenna Mychko solo home run and a Brittany Sanchez RBI double to cut the deficit down to 7-4.

Kayla Massey used her second home run in as many games to get one of the runs back for Iowa in the top of the fifth inning. It marked her third long ball of the season and second of the series as she hit a two-run home run in game one.

In the top of the sixth, Iowa continued its offensive charge with two runs scored. Pinch hitter Michaela Johnson led off with a hit by pitch and was replaced by Navarro at first base. A Luna single gave the Hawkeyes a first and third opportunity on the next play. Luna drew the throw to second with a steal, giving Navarro enough time to beat the throw home to score safely on the play. A Fritsch sacrifice bunt followed by an Erickson sacrifice fly allowed Luna to touch home for the second run of the inning.

Illinois added three additional runs in the bottom of the sixth to bring the score to 10-7. A scoreless seventh inning followed solidifying the final win for the Hawkeyes.

Starkenburg (3-2) earned her second complete game victory and third win overall of the season in the circle. She matched her career-high with five strikeouts in her seven innings.

Blank paced the team with four RBIs in the contest, followed by Erickson who drove in two runs. Luna and Massey also recorded an RBI apiece. Three recorded two hits in the game including Luna (2-for-3), Blank (2-for-3), and Repole (2-for-3). The Iowa offense went through all three Illinois pitchers in the seven-inning competition and each Hawkeye reached base in the contest.

Iowa 10, Illinois 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Iowa (7-13, 2-0) 2 4 0 1 1 2 0 10 11 0
Illinois (14-9, 0-2) 2 0 0 2 0 3 0 7 14 2
Game Decision
W: Starkenburg (IOWA) 3-2
L: Vecvanags (ILL) 1-1

Iowa pushed two runs across in the top of the first for the second straight game for an early advantage. Brianna Luna opened the game with a single to right and moved into scoring position on a Kayla Massey single to center. A wild Illinois throw into the outfield on the play allowed both runners to touch home plate.

Two-hole hitter Brittany Sanchez hit her first home run of the season to erase the zero in the Illini scoring column in the bottom of the first inning. The long ball cut the Hawkeye lead to one run, 2-1.

Both teams were scoreless in the second and third innings. Luna laid out for a ball in right field and completed a double play with a throw to Megan Blank at second base to save runs in the second, and the Iowa defense sent the Illini down in order in the third with a pair of groundouts and a Massey strikeout.

In the bottom of the fourth, Illinois used back-to-back, one-out singles to put runners at first and third. A Ruby Rivera sacrifice fly plated the runner from third to knot the contest, 2-2.

Eight-hole hitter Whitney Repole broke the tie in the top of the fifth, crushing her first home run of the season and the second of her collegiate career over the fence in center field. She collected her second RBI of the year with the long ball.

Illinois fought back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. An error put the leadoff Illinois batter on base and a sacrifice bunt moved her into scoring position at second. The runner came around to score on a Jess Perkins double to give the contest a 3-3 score.

Neither team could score a run in the seventh inning, forcing extra innings for the second time in the conference series.

Illinois used a double and a single to put two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth with one out on the board. Alex Booker hit a ground ball to Hawkeye second baseman Claire Fritsch who threw the ball to catcher Holly Hoffman at home. The tag was not in time, keying the 4-3, walk-off win for the Illini.

Massey (3-9) was tagged with the loss in the circle. She allowed six hits and four runs — three earned — in her 7.1 innings of work. The starter collected three strikeouts in her complete game effort.

Hoffman led the Hawkeye offense with two hits (2-for-3), while Luna (1-for-4), Fritsch (1-for-4), Massey (1-for-3), Blank (1-for-4), and Repole (1-for-3) each added a hit.

“We didn’t ever die out,” fourth-year head coach Marla Looper said. “We continued to battle through each game. I am proud of them for getting two of three. It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row, especially when you have to play them twice in one day. But it’s doable, it’s been done before, and we had the opportunity to do it. Illinois is a scrappy ball club and they’re going to do well in conference like we are. I’m proud we came out 2-1.”

The Hawkeyes resume Big Ten play at Wisconsin next weekend, March 28-30. The series begins with a 6 p.m. (CT) Friday game, continues with a 1 p.m. (CT) Saturday game, and concludes with a 1 p.m. (CT) Sunday contest.

Illinois 4, Iowa 3 (8 innings) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E
Iowa (7-14, 2-1) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 7 2
Illinois (15-9, 1-2) 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 4 6 1
Game Decision
W: Needham (ILL) 10-4
L: Massey (IOWA) 3-9