Illinois Downs Iowa in Game 2

April 4, 2015

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team dropped a 15-7 decision to Illinois in game two of the three-game series on Saturday afternoon at Pearl Field. The Illini victory evens the series at a game apiece, as Iowa recorded a 15-7 win in game one on Friday.

With the loss, the Hawkeyes drop to 12-29 on the season and 3-7 in Big Ten action, while the Illini improve to 13-21 overall and 4-4 in league play.

Redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman stayed hot at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three singles. The San Pedro, California, native has recorded hits in eight of her last nine at-bats dating back to Iowa’s 11-8 loss to Western Illinois on April 2. Her eight hits include a home run, two triples, a double and four singles.

Illinois struck first in the contest, plating a run in the top of the first. The Illini used a double and an RBI single to take an early 1-0 lead.

After two scoreless innings, Illinois rallied in the fourth. The Illini sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs on four hits and two costly Iowa errors to extend their lead to 7-0.

“In the fourth inning we gave up six runs and we had two errors,” said head coach Marla Looper. “Had we stopped the bleeding then, I think it would have been a different outcome. We have to play better defense.”

Iowa got two runs back in the fifth. Junior Erin Erickson led off the frame with a walk, and an Illini error put Hawkeyes on first and second with no outs. A fielder’s choice on a Gyerman grounder to second moved Erickson to third before redshirt junior Holly Hoffman capitalized on the RBI opportunity with a two-run single to right center.

The Hawkeyes evened the score in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Whitney Repole started the rally with a double to left. After two groundouts, Repole scored on an error by the Illini second baseman. Freshman Cheyenne Pratt followed with a double down the left field line, and Gyerman capitalized on the RBI opportunity with an infield single. Megan Blank tied the game with one swing. The senior sent a three-run blast — the 23rd home run of her career — over the right field wall to knot the game at seven. Blank’s blast moves her into a fifth-place tie on Iowa’s all-time career home runs list (Stacy May-Johnson, 23). Iowa scored all five of its runs in the inning with two outs.

The Illini fought back in the seventh. Illinois plated eight runs on seven hits and an error to secure the 15-7 victory.

“Once we got in there and put two up in the fifth it put us right where we wanted to be,” said Looper. “Tying it up in the sixth was awesome. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a 1-2-3 inning, because I think we would have taken care of business in the bottom of the seventh.”

Ashley Yoways (2-12) took the loss in the circle. The freshman allowed eight earned runs on 14 hits. She walked two and struck out one. Junior Jillian Navarrete allowed three runs on two hits and a walk in relief. Shayla Starkenburg also saw time in the circle. The redshirt sophomore allowed one hit and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.

The Hawkeyes and Illini will conclude the series Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. (CT).

Illinois 15, Iowa 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Illinois (13-21, 4-4) 1 0 0 6 0 0 8 15 17 3
Iowa (12-29, 2-7) 0 0 0 0 2 5 0 7 8 5
Game Decision
W: Vecvanags (IOWA) 7-8
L: Yoways (IOWA) 2-12