Redbirds' Win Streak Snapped at Loyola
April 26, 2006
CHICAGO - Illinois State escaped with a 2-1 win in game one of a doubleheader at Loyola-Chicago; however, pitching mistakes cost the Redbirds in game two as they fell 8-6. Despite the loss, ISU, which dropped its first game since a loss to Drake on April 9, out-hit the Ramblers 11-9 in the nightcap.
With one out in the top of the first, Randi Patton lifted a 2-1 pitch over the fence in right center, giving the Redbirds an early one-run lead in the opener. The 'Birds then got three one-out singles in the top of the fourth, but Casey Gorrell was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Kaprice Williams' single to shallow right field for the second out. Rambler starter Krista Crosson struck out the ensuing batter to prevent the 'Birds from putting more runs on the board.
Loyola (14-36) got the tying run to third in the third inning as Trish Oberhaus got things started with a single to centerfield. The pinch runner advanced to second on a passed ball before moving to third on a sacrifice bunt. Starter Stacy Birk then dug in and forced a pop out and a groundout to end the threat.
Illinois State (33-12) got an insurance run in the fifth after Tricia Gaither reached on a leadoff single up the middle. After stealing second, Gaither moved to third on a passed ball with one out. Amber Smith then walked to put runners on the corners. After pinch runner Jackie Williams stole second, Gaither beat out the throw to the plate on Jessie Buker's fielder's choice for the two-run edge. With a pair of runners in scoring position following Buker's stolen base, the Redbirds were unable to capitalize as Williams was thrown out at the plate on another fielder's choice and the ensuing batter grounded out. The 'Birds left a total of seven runners stranded in the opener.
The 'Birds needed that insurance run as Loyola plated a run in the bottom of the seventh after the second batter in the frame, Katerina Krause reached on a ground-rule double as the ball went through the break-away fence. Krause advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Birk's throw to first to get the ensuing batter was wild. The following two batters flew out to right field and third base and the 'Birds escaped with a 2-1 win.
In game two, ISU had six hits through the opening two innings, as many as they had in the entire first game. Gaither helped the 'Birds get off to a fast start as she singled to left field. Patton then hit a RBI double down the left field line, advancing to third on the throw to the plate, giving ISU a 1-0 lead. A sacrifice fly by Smith made it 2-0. Kelsey Warning then singled up the middle and Birk was walked but the Redbirds were unable to capitalize as the next two batters grounded out and struck out, respectively.
However, Redbird starter Shannon Nicholson struggled through the first two innings of the nightcap. After hitting the first two batters, she nearly escaped the inning unscathed as Illinois State got a double play to leave the Ramblers with a runner on second and two out. But a Guska double down the left field line cut the ISU lead to one.
ISU fought back with four runs in the top of the second. Tiffany Prager singled with one out and Gaither was walked before Patton reached safely on catcher's interference. Smith singled to left field, driving in the first run of the frame as the bases remained full. Wild pitches sandwiched around a walk allowed both Gaither and Patton to score. The final run of the inning crossed on a Birk sacrifice fly with ISU taking a 6-1 lead.
But the lead was short-lived when the Ramblers got back-to-back singles to start the second and Nicholson issued a walk to load the bases with no one out. Following a strikeout, she gave up a grand slam to leadoff batter Tara Miller on a full count as once again Loyola cut the deficit to one. With Birk on in relief, the 'Birds escaped the frame as they caught a runner stealing and Birk induced a pop out. However, Loyola did manage to take the lead in the fourth on a two-out two-run homer by Nora Schober. A leadoff solo blast over the centerfield fence by Raven Gengler extended the Rambler lead to 8-6, as they held on for the win.
Birk (17-7) picked up the win in game one, striking out five and walking one as she scattered four hits. Crosson (6-21) shouldered the loss, surrendering six hits and five walks while fanning three. However, Birk took the loss in the nightcap. She allowed five hits, three earned runs and two while fanning a pair. Meanwhile, Nicholson allowed four hits and five earned runs in her inning and a third in game two. Laura DeLeon earned the win upon reentry in game two. She struck out four and walked three as she scattered eight hits.
Gaither and Patton led the 'Birds offensively, as they each finished the day with four hits and three runs.