No. 4 Michigan run-rules No. 14 Minnesota to claim series victory
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Fourth-ranked Michigan plated six runs in the sixth to earn a 9-1 run-rule decision and claim the series against No. 14 Minnesota on Sunday afternoon at the Golden Gophers' Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. With the rubber-match victory, the Wolverines reversed the result from Friday's series opener.
The Wolverines posted 11 hits -- eight against Minnesota ace Sara Groenewegen -- for their second consecutive double-digit hit tally of the series. Sierra Lawrence and Sierra Romero tallied two hits a piece and combined for four runs batted in at the top of the lineup, while Lindsay Montemarano went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks.
Megan Betsa (15-4) struck out nine and allowed just one run off three hits and five walks against the potent Golden Gopher lineup. Betsa struck out the side in the fourth inning and added two more in the fifth before getting out of a bases-loaded jam to preserve the run rule in the sixth.
Clinging to a narrow two-run advantage after five innings, the Wolverines blew the game open with six runs off five hits, a walk and an error in the top of the sixth. Lawrence kicked off U-M's two-out rally with a two-strike double to the wall in left center field, scoring Montemarano from first base when the Gopher outfielders failed to cleanly corral the ball. Romero followed with a two-strike hit of her own, bouncing a grounder through the infield to score Lawrence and force Groenewegen from the circle.
Kelly Christner singled through the right side to keep the rally going, and after a hit-by-pitch, a Gopher fielding error on shortstop Tyler Walker allowed two more runs to score when Kelsey Susalla beat out the attempted forceout at second. Haylie Wagner singled through the right side to push across another, and Montemarano, who walked to lead off the inning, doubled to the wall in left center field to pad U-M's lead into run-rule territory.
Minnesota threatened in the home half of the sixth, loading the bases with one down, before Betsa froze Erika Rozell for a big second out and forced the game-ending popup to first base.
The Wolverines put runners on base in every inning and claimed the initial advantage with a two-run second. Montemarno walked, and Abby Ramirez laid down a perfect bunt single to put two on with two outs for Lawrence, who dropped a looper into shallow center field to score both.
After threatening with a runner on third with one out in the third -- Betsa issued back-to-back strikeouts to exit the inning unscathed -- the Golden Gophers cut U-M's advantage in half with Paige Palkovich's RBI double in the bottom of the fourth. Betsa walked the bases loaded before getting out of the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.
Sweet drove a sac fly into right to reestablish U-M's two-run cushion in the fifth. Romero led off the inning with a single through the left side, advanced on a foulout and scored from second on the sac fly.