March 15, 2013
URBANA, Ill. - Loyola University Chicago (10-8) starting pitcher Brittany Gardner struck out a season-high 12 batters but host Illinois (8-12) rallied late to tie the game and got a RBI single in the ninth inning from Jess Perkins to earn a 3-2 victory in walk-off fashion this afternoon at Eichelberger in the Fighting Illini Invitational.
Loyola appeared on the way to its third victory over a BCS conference opponent this season until the seventh inning when Remeny Perez ripped a two-run double over the left fielder's head with two outs to tie the game and force extra innings.
In the bottom of the ninth, with runners at second and third, Perkins laced a single to center to score Jami Schkade for the winning run.
Loyola got on the board in the third inning when after Keali Engelkens and Jessica Balzano drew walks and Lauren Zaworski was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Brie Pasquale smoked a single to left to score Engelkens for a 1-0 lead.
After Gardner escaped a huge logjam by leaving the bases full of Illini in the fourth inning, the Ramblers left a pair of runners on in the fifth before hanging an insurance run on the board in what could have been a big sixth inning. Brooke Andresen's single to right with two outs in the sixth gave Loyola a 2-0 lead and that advantage could have grown to three or more runs, but Engelkens was thrown out at third to end the inning.
Andresen went 2 for 4 and six other Ramblers recorded a hit to lead the Rambler offense, which totaled eight hits off of a pair of Illinois hurlers. Gardner scattered nine hits and fanned 12, surpassing her previous season high of 11 set versus Villanova.
Loyola closes out pool play at the Fighting Illini Invitational versus Western Michigan tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. First pitch has been pushed back one hour from its originally scheduled time of 10 a.m.