May 7, 2015
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the contest knotted 3-3 in the top of the seventh inning, University of Iowa redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman came through in the clutch with a two-run home run. The long ball proved to be the game winner, as the 10th-seeded Hawkeyes (18-39) bounced No. 7 seed Rutgers (29-20) from the Big Ten Tournament with a 5-3 victory.
With the win, Iowa advances to the quarterfinals to face No. 2-seeded Minnesota. The game is set for 7 p.m. (CT) on Friday and will be shown live on the Big Ten Network.
“I’m just proud of this group and how they continue to scrap and continue to claw,” head coach Marla Looper. “They don’t give up. That’s grit and that’s Iowa softball.”
Rutgers jumped ahead early in the contest, plating one run in the first on a bases loaded walk. The Scarlet Knights extended their lead in the second with a two-run home run off the bat of Chandler Howard.
The bats went quiet, as neither team scored in the next three innings of play.
The Hawkeye defense generated momentum in the bottom of the fifth, when they got out of a bases loaded jam. After a pair of hits and a walk put three on with no outs, freshman Allie Wood made a running catch in right to record the first out. Redshirt sophomore Shayla Starkenburg fielded the next batted ball in the circle and threw home to redshirt junior catcher Holly Hoffman to put two outs on the board. To end the inning, sophomore first baseman Kaitlyn Mullarkey made a stop and stepped on the bag to ruin the Scarlet Knights’ opportunity.
Energized by its defensive efforts, Iowa broke into the scoring column in the top of the sixth. Senior Megan Blank got the rally going when she tripled to deep right field with one away. Hoffman ruined Rutgers starting pitcher Alyssa Landrith’s shutout bid in the next at bat with an RBI single to left.
Mullarkey followed it up by hitting a game-tying, two-run home run out of the park to left field. It is her fifth long ball of the season and the sixth of her career. After retiring the Scarlet Knights in order on a trio of groundouts, the game remained knotted at 3-3 heading to the seventh.
Sophomore Claire Fritsch opened the frame with a single through the right side, and with one swing of the bat Gyerman put the Hawkeyes in front 5-3 with a two-run blast to center field. It marked her sixth long ball of the season and her career.
The lead held up, as the Iowa defense took care of business in the bottom half. Freshman third baseman Sarah Kurtz handled a grounder for the first out, Blank backhanded a hot shot at shortstop for the second, and Fritsch fielded a ground ball for the final out at second base.
Starkenburg (16-22) earned the complete game victory in the circle. She struck out five, and allowed three earned runs on six hits.
Iowa had three record multiple hit games, including Fritsch (2-for-4), Gyerman (2-for-4), and Blank (2-for-4). Mullarkey and Gyerman both posted a pair of RBIs. After the win, the Hawkeyes shifted their focus to their next opponent Minnesota.
“We have seen them three times already fairly recently,” Blank said. “We need to keep playing defense well. That has kept us in a lot of games this year. If we keep doing that we are bound to keep going until we can get some runs across the board.
“Seeing Groenewegen a couple times already is definitely a benefit to us. Hopefully, we keep ourselves in the game until we can push a couple runs across.”
|Iowa 5, Rutgers 3||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|W: Starkenburg (IOWA) 16-22|
|L: Landrith (RU) 15-12|