IU Tops Michigan State in Extras to Advance to Bronze Bracket Title Game
March 11, 2007
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Junior Jennilee Huddleston stroked a game-tying triple and senior Rachel Terry notched the game-winning single as Indiana rallied past Michigan State, 5-4 in eight innings, to advance to the championship game of the Bronze Bracket at the USF adidas Invitational.
The Hoosiers (5-9) earned a date with Fordham for the Bronze Bracket title with an exciting final inning of play. With the teams tied at 3 entering the eighth, Gina Mondo was placed on second via the international tiebreaker rule. After a sacrifice bunt by Nicole Mercado moved Mondo to third, Nikki Nicosia singled to center to score Mondo with the go-ahead run.
Now down 4-3, Indiana was still far from out of the woods. Kara Weigle was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second with just one out, but the Hoosier defense was about to come to the rescue. Indiana starter Monica Wright induced a popup off the bat of Caitlyn Mahoney for an out on an infield fly, and second baseman Julie DiNallo fired over to third in an attempt to nail the advancing Nicosia. The ball ricocheted off Nicosia and was heading toward left field, sending Nicosia scrambling for home. But Huddleston quickly recovered the ball and sent a dart to catcher Tory Yamaguchi, who applied the tag and held onto the ball after a collision with Nicosia to escape further damage.
Having seen a reversal of fortune after leading for most of the contest, the Hoosiers conjured some late-inning magic to pick up the win over its Big Ten rival. After junior Julia Hamiton was placed on second to lead off the bottom half of the inning, Huddleston smashed a hard grounder that seemed destined for Michigan State second baseman Mondo's glove, but the ball took a fortuitous Hoosier hop at the last second and found the gap in right center, allowing Hamilton to score the tying run and Huddleston to race into third.
One out later, Terry singled up the middle to score Huddleston and secure the walk-off win. The win was Indiana head coach Stacey Phillips' first over her alma mater as a head coach.
Indiana jumped out a to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, as Rachel Terry and Emily Bergeson notched back-to-back RBI singles with two outs to get the Hoosiers on the scoreboard first. Bergeson then got hung up between first and second on a steal attempt, and eluded the Spartans' defense long enough to allow Terry to score from third with IU's third run of the frame.
The Spartans (12-10) got a run back in the top of the fourth, as Mahoney and Dayna Feenstra reached on infield singles to start the inning. Meghan Darhower earned a one-out walk to load the bases, then Kelly Confer lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Mahoney with MSU's first run.
Michigan State tallied a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to even the score. Traci Nicosia doubled to lead off the inning, and went to third base on Darhower's single through the left side. Confer then came through again, singling up the middle to score Nicosia. After an out and a Mercado single, Nikki Nicosia singled to the left field corner to score Confer with the tying run. With the bases loaded and just one out, Wright got an out at the plate on a fielder's choice, then got a foulout to end the inning without further damage.
Huddleston (2-for-3, two runs, RBI) and Terry (2-for-4, run, 2 RBIs) paced the Hoosier offense, while Nikki Nicosia, Mahoney, Darhower and Feenstra had a pair of hits each for the Spartans.
Wright (3-6) picked up the win, allowing four runs, three earned, on 11 hits and three walks in 8 innings of work. Michigan State starter Rachel Turney fell to 4-5, allowing five runs, one earned, on a walk and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings of work.
Indiana will face the Rams of Fordham for the Bronze Bracket championship at 12 p.m. on Sunday.
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