Northwestern Rally and Eighth-Inning Home Run Eliminates Gamecocks|
May 21, 2004
TUCSON, Ariz. - A seventh-inning rally and a home run by Kristen Amegin in the bottom of the eighth, lifted the Northwestern Wildcats over the South Carolina Gamecocks 5-3 to eliminate USC from the Arizona Regional of the NCAA Tournament Friday night. USC went 1-2 at the regional and ends their season at 28-24.
USC held on to a 3-1 lead for most of the game until the bottom of the seventh. Starter Stacey Johnson threw six-plus innings and allowed three runs on three hits. Two of those hits came in the seventh when Eryn Manahan led off with a single followed by Jamie Dotson with a double, which scored Manahan and cut USC's lead to one.
The Gamecocks then changed pitchers and brought in Melanie Henkes (9-8). Henkes recorded two outs before the Wildcats struck again. Carri Leto hit an RBI single to drive in Dotson's pinch runner Ashley Crane and tied the game 3-3. USC did get out of the inning without allowing any more runs and forced extra-innings.
South Carolina went down in order in the top half of the eighth with a ground out, a fly out and a pop up. In the Wildcats half of the inning, Garland Cooper led off with a single to right field. After she advanced to second on a passed ball, Amegin smacked a home run deep to centerfield to score two runs and win the game.
It appeared that the Gamecocks had things under control early on. For the second game in a row, Hughes put South Carolina on the board with a first inning home run. After lead-off batter Nancy Crane singled to start the game, Hughes then followed with a her seventh career long ball to deep centerfield and gave USC a 2-0 lead.
USC scored their third run in the second inning when Aleca Johnson scored on an error by Amegin. In the third inning, Northwestern brought in pitcher Eileen Canney (19-3) to replace starter Courtnay Foster. Canney held USC scoreless with five strikeouts and gave up three hits.
"Obviously, we didn't do anything when they switched pitchers. She did what she had to do to shut us down," said head coach Joyce Compton. "We weren't as enthusiastic as the game went on, but that's the way we've been all year. We gave them runs. You can't give teams at this level four or five runs in an inning."
At the plate for USC, Crane went 2-for-4 with a run while Meghan Cornett went 2-for-3. The Gamecocks managed six hits off of Northwestern.