April 23, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
It might not have been the prettiest game that the Indiana Hoosiers (29-15, 9-2 Big Ten) have played this season but the bats came alive in the late innings in the 7-2 win against Michigan State (21-19, 3-8 Big Ten) at Secchia Stadium in East Lansing, Mich, extending the Hoosiers' win streak to nine games. The Hoosiers committed five errors in the first four innings but the Spartans were only able to score one run thanks to the continued dominant pitching of Morgan Melloh, who registered 11 strikeouts.
The nine-game win streak is the longest since 2007 and the eight-game win streak in conference play is the longest since 1994.
Melloh (24-14) picked up the win in the circle and she certainly earned it, allowing two runs - one earned - on six hits while issuing three walks. The 24 wins is tied for sixth most in a season by an IU pitcher, matching Amy Unterbrink's total from the 1984 season.
The 11 strikeouts gives her 386 on the season overall and 130 in Big Ten play. The overall total is tied for sixth-most ever by a Big Ten pitcher, joining Eileen Canney of Northwestern who had 386 during the 2007 season. The Big Ten total is the eighth-most ever by a Big Ten pitcher in conference games.
And after all that about her pitching, she was 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run and two RBI to lead the Indiana attack there as well. Amanda Wagner also hit a long ball for the Hoosiers, her fourth in the last 10 days after not having any over the first two months of the season. Sara Olson also logged an RBI single in the game as part of her 1-for-2 day at the plate in addition to being hit-by-pitch for the sixth and seventh times in Big Ten play.
Things did not go well for the Hoosiers in the field in the bottom of the first inning as they committed a pair of errors but Melloh was able to work around it and keep the Spartans off the scoreboard. Another error by the IU defense put at third base but Melloh struck out the side to end the threat.
In the Michigan State half of the third inning, a pair of strikeouts started the frame but a single and an error in left field allowed Lori Padilla to get into scoring position. She moved over to third base on an illegal pitch and then Lindsey Hansen drew a walk to put runners at the corners with two outs. On the first pitch to the next batter, Hansen broke from first base attempting to get in a rundown long enough for the run to score, but IU shortstop Breanna Saucedo
dove to apply the tag on Hansen before the runner crossed the plate and did apply the tag but the ball popped out of her glove to Hansen was able to dive back into first base and the run score to make it 1-0 in favor of MSU.
The Hoosiers committed another error in the fourth inning but again Melloh induced a pair of flyouts to end the inning with runners in scoring position.
Finally in the sixth inning, the tide began to turn in favor of the Hoosiers and they took full advantage. Saucedo started the inning by reaching on a fielding error by the MSU second baseman. Ashley Warrum followed with a bunt single down the third base line to force the Spartans to pitch to the top hitter in the Big Ten, Sara Olson. The slugging first baseman lined a single to left field that skipped past the outfielder and went all the way to the wall, allowing Saucedo and Warrum to come in and score to give Indiana a 2-1 lead with Olson standing at third base. Amanda Wagner stepped in next and smoked a ball over the left field fence for her fourth home run of the season to give Indiana the 4-1 edge. Melloh stepped in and lifted the first pitch she saw over the fence in left center for her second home run of the year and the Hoosiers were all of a sudden ahead by a score of 5-1.
The Spartans clawed back for one run in the bottom of the sixth on a home run by Sara Bowling to make it 5-2, but Melloh's work was not done in the inning. A two-out infield single followed by a double down the left field line had the tying run at the plate in the form of Padilla. But the left-handed slap hitter grounded out to Shelby Gogreve at third base to end the inning.
The seventh inning saw Indiana pick right back up with the bats, starting with Meaghan Murpy's leadoff double to center field. Saucedo singled back up the middle to put runners at the corners. On the next pitch, Saucedo stole second base and an errant throw from MSU catcher Brett Williams allowed Heyman to cross the plate with the Hoosiers sixth run. Melloh's third hit of the day brought Saucedo across the plate and all of a sudden the Hoosiers were just three outs away from their ninth consecutive win.
Melloh easily closed the door in the bottom of the seventh a couple of infield popups and a ground ball to shortstop for the final out.
The Hoosiers will return to Secchia Stadium on Sunday for a 1:00 p.m. first pitch against the Spartans.
Saucedo was 1-for-4 in the game to extend to a five-game hit streak ... Melloh had three hits for the second consecutive game ... in the last seven Big Ten games, Amanda Wagner is hitting .400 with four home runs and 11 RBI ... the start in the circle was the 148th of Melloh's career to tie for 20th on the NCAA career games started list for pitchers ... it was also her 188 career game pitched, which is tied for 11th on the NCAA career list ... she has also now pitched in 1087.2 innings, the 21st most in NCAA history ... it is also the 76th time in her career that she has registered 10 or more strikeouts in a game ... the double by Murphy broke an 0-for-14 skid at the plate for the freshman ... Michigan State stranded 10 runners on base in the game.