Blugolds Split With Superior

The Blugolds are 21-9 overall and 4-4 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). The Yellowjackets are 13-17 overall and 2-8 in the WIAC. Superior’s victory in game one was their first win at Gelein Field since a 4-1 victory on April 10, 2001. Eau Claire had won the previous four meetings by a combined score of 43-7.

In game one, neither team would get a base runner until the top of the third inning. Eau Claire pitcher Mallory McKinney (Sr.-Brooklyn Park, MN/Champlin Park) struck out the side, looking, in the top of the second. But in the top of the third Superior’s Jamie Lovstad would begin the inning with a leadoff single. Later in the inning, Lovstad would steal third and advance home after the Blugolds threw the ball into left field to make the score 1-0.

Eau Claire answered in a big way in the bottom of the inning as the Blugolds would load the bases with one out. Mandy Tschernach (Sr.-Rice Lake, WI) then singled to right field that scored Katie Stalker (Fr.-Madison, WI/La Follette) to tie the game. After an infield fly, Michelle Butkus (Jr.-Medford, WI) broke the tie with a two-RBI single to left that scored both Rachel Paulus (Sr.-Wisconsin Rapids, WI/Lincoln) and Amber Haack (Sr.-Madison, WI/La Follette) to make the score 3-1 Eau Claire.

The Blugolds added some insurance in the bottom of the sixth when Casey Leisgang (Jr.-Seymour, WI) hit her fifth home run of the season on a shot to left center that hit the top of the fence and went over to make the score 4-1.

The Yellowjackets did not give up as Jodi Redlich led off the top of the seventh with a double. With one out she would score on a Jen Parchem single to center field to cut the lead to 4-2. With two outs, Superior would get a single and walk to load the bases. Katie Moench then stepped to the plate and hit a grand slam home run to left to give the Yellowjackets a 6-4 lead.

Rachel Paulus hit a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the inning, but the Blugolds could not tie it up as Superior won 6-5.

Paulus was 3-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored. Leisgang was 2-for-3 with a home run. McKinney (8-6) picked up the loss on the mound as she allowed seven hits and struck out seven.

The Yellowjackets kept the momentum rolling in game two as they would take an early lead. In the top of the first, with Moench would steal third but the Blugolds would drop the throw and she would advance home to give Superior a 1-0 lead.

Miscues by the Yellowjackets led to Eau Claire’s first run in the bottom of the third. With one out Bekki Kidnie (Fr.-St. Paul, MN/Johnson) would strike out, but advance to first on a passed ball. Amber Haack then reached on an error to put runners at first and second. Rachel Paulus then hit an infield single that scored Katie Stalker, who pinch ran for Kidnie, from second to tie the game 1-1.

Superior came right back in the top of the fourth when Brooke Bailey hit a solo home run to left field to give the Yellowjackets the lead. It would stay that way until the bottom of the sixth when Michelle Butkus doubled to left field to score Mandy Tschernach to tie the game again at 2-2.

Neither team threatened in the seventh inning so the game went into extra innings. After Superior couldn’t do anything in the top of the eighth, the Blugolds’ Mallory McKinney began the bottom portion of the inning with a single. She was then pinch ran for by Tessa Pecha (Jr.-Eau Claire, WI/North). A sacrifice moved Pecha to second and then Jill Janke (Jr.-Black River Falls, WI) hit a single to right that score Pecha from second to give the Blugolds a 3-2 victory.

The Blugolds finished with only five hits in the game. Bri Sturm (So.-Zumbrota, MN/Zumbrota-Mazeppa) won her fifth decision in a row and improves to 11-3 this season. Sturm scattered seven hits and allowed just one earned run in eight innings of work.

Next the Blugolds will travel down I-94 to face rival UW-Stout for a doubleheader on Wednesday. The first game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.