Nittany Lions Clipped 3-2 by No. 18/20 Fighting Illini
April 18, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A late push by Penn State (26-14, 5-5 Big Ten) was not enough as the Illinois Fighting Illini (31-5, 5-2 Big Ten) were able to hold off the Lions 3-2 Sunday afternoon at Nittany Lion Field.
Lisa Akamine (Escondido, Calif.) was in the circle for the Nittany Lions and gave up eight hits and three earned runs in a complete game. Monica Perry got the win for the Fighting Illini for the second straight day, giving up four hits and no earned runs with eight strikeouts.
Penn State attempted a comeback in the bottom of the sixth, down 3-1, as Lauren Yao (Los Angeles, Calif.) drove in Ashley Griffith (Mt. Laurel, N.J) from second to close the gap, 3-2. Yao reached second on the throw home, but couldn't advance any further as Perry snagged a sharp grounder back to the mound to end the threat.
Penn State tried for another rally in the seventh inning when Lauren Rossi (Yardley, Pa.) smacked a single to right field. A pop out and Cassidy Bell (Bakersfield, Calif.) battled Perry to a 10-pitch at bat, finally popping out to end the upset bid.
The Illini started trouble in the top of the first, but Akamine was able to get out of the jam as two runners were left stranded in scoring position.
Illinois was able to get onto the board first in the top of the third after a sacrifice fly to center field by Hollie Pinchbeck scored Danielle Zymkowitz. There was a bit of a question about whether or not Zymkowitz left early from third base as she was well down the line by the time the throw got to home. Zymkowitz led off the inning with a single to left center followed by a single from Hope Howell, advancing Zymkowitz to third.
Keley Wedel increased the lead in the top of the fourth with a home run down the left field line, stretching the lead to 2-0.
Penn State was able to get onto the board after a sacrifice bunt by Danee Collett (Orange, Calif.) resulted in a throwing error to first by pitcher Monica Perry, followed by another error on the throw to second by the Illini right fielder. The two errors allowed Ashley Griffith to score from first base, closing the gap to 2-1, and giving Collett second base. A sacrifice by Akamine advanced Collett to third, followed by a hit by pitch on Lauren Yao to put runners on the corners. Yao eventually stole second base, but Perry was able to get out of the jam with two strikeouts.
Illinois responded quickly after Howell hit a two-out home run to deep center field in the top of the fifth, increasing the lead to 3-1 and proving to be the game-winning run.
Penn State hits the road for a midweek doubleheader at No. 2/2 Michigan on Wednesday starting at 5:00 p.m. The two games against the first-place Wolverines will be broadcast live on the BigTenNetwork.com, have live stats on GameTracker as well as live commentary through Twitter (@PSULionSoftball).