Thursday, April 05, 2012
Sports News

Birch's 2-hitter leads ISU past Illinois 1-0

Send a link to a friend

[April 05, 2012]  URBANA -- One run of support was all senior pitcher Jordan Birch needed to pick up her 13th win of the season, as she led the Illinois State softball team to 1-0 win over in-state rival Illinois Wednesday night in a nonconference matchup at Eichelberger Field in Urbana. The shutout was the seventh of the year for Birch.

The Redbirds (21-15) managed just five hits but manufactured a run on a double by junior Lauren Kellar and a sacrifice fly by fellow junior Elizabeth Kay in the top of the sixth for the game's lone run. Birch allowed just two hits in the victory and struck out six without issuing a walk, as she outdueled Fighting Illini (16-15) starter Pepper Gay, who gave up an unearned run and fanned nine ISU hitters around a pair of walks.

After both teams were retired in order in the first, Kay drew a leadoff walk to start the second, and senior Liz Andrews followed with an infield single. However, Gay responded by retiring the next three hitters in order to keep Illinois State off the board.

Illinois' best chance came in its half of the second, as Jessica Davis led off the frame with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a Jess Perkins groundout. Birch stranded Davis at third by getting Jenna Mychko and Stephanie Cuevas to pop out for the final two outs.

The Redbirds had a chance to add to their lead in the third after freshman Lindsey Greene singled up the middle and advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by junior Jhavon Hamilton. For the second time in as many innings, Gay was able to strand an ISU runner in scoring position by recording back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

Illinois State finally broke through in the sixth to take a 1-0 lead. Kellar doubled down the right-field line and moved to third on a one-out passed ball. On the very next pitch, Kay was able to lift a ball to left that was deep enough to allow Kellar to tag and score.

[to top of second column]

After the single by Davis in the second, Birch retired the next 14 Illini hitters and did not allow a base runner until Alex Booker's two-out single in the sixth. In the seventh, Birch got Meredith Hackett to fly out to right and Davis to pop out to second before facing Perkins for the third time on the evening. Perkins drilled a ball to deep left, but a strong field kept the ball in the park and Kellar was able to make the catch with her back to the wall to secure the win for Illinois State.

The victory improved Birch to 13-9 in the circle, as Gay fell to 11-7 for the Illini. Birch has been dominant in her last five starts, going 4-1 with a 0.41 ERA in 34.0 innings. The Monroe, Wash., native has allowed just two earned runs with 33 strikeouts and just one walk in that span.

The Redbirds will begin a seven-game homestand Friday against Missouri Valley Conference opponent Evansville at Marian Kneer Stadium. ISU and UE will play a single game Friday at 5 p.m., before wrapping up the three-game set with a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at noon.

[Text from news release received from Dustin Hall, Illinois State University]

< Sports index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor