April 28, 2013
CHICAGO - Lauren Zaworski's walk-off home run propelled Loyola University Chicago (26-16, 14-4 Horizon) to a 3-0 victory over Green Bay (12-25, 5-12 Horizon) in the finale of a three-game series this afternoon at Loyola Softball Park. With the win, the Ramblers extended their home winning streak in Horizon League play to nine games and also maintained a share of first place in the conference race.
Much like yesterday's series opener in game one of a doubleheader, today's contest was a duel between Loyola lefthander Brittany Gardner and Green Bay righty Allison Goecks. In game one yesterday, those two hurlers put the clamps on the offense as the teams combined for a mere four hits in Loyola's 2-1 victory.
Today, Gardner surrendered back-to-back one-out singles in the top of the first, but was able to wiggle her way of out the inning unscathed. From that point on, the junior southpaw set down 17 straight Phoenix hitters before first baseman Melissa Michalkiewicz, who had Green Bay's second hit in the first inning, singled to lead off the seventh.
Meanwhile, Loyola had several opportunities against Goecks, putting at least one runner on base in each of the first five innings, but the Ramblers were unable to crack the senior righthander. Perhaps the best scoring opportunity for Loyola came in the second inning when the first two batters reached base. Following a force out at third and a foul out, a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, but after an ensuing Olivia Bell walk loaded the bases, Goecks got Brooke Andresen to pop out to end the rally.
The game would stay scoreless until the bottom of the seventh, when the Ramblers mounted a one-out rally. Andresen reached on a throwing error, and after Goecks got Jessica Balzano to fly out for the second out in the inning, the Phoenix pitched around third baseman Lauren Moore, who belted a pair of game-winning home runs on Saturday.
That set the stage for Zaworski's dramatic walk-off homer, her fourth roundtripper of the season, which came on a 3-2 pitch from Goecks. Off the bat, it appeared as if the ball would carom off the fence in centerfield to allow pinch runner Keali Engelkens to score from second base for the winning run, but the ball hit the top of the fence and bounced over for a game-winning, three-run homer.
Balzano tallied a pair of hits for Loyola, which totaled six knocks against Goecks, while Gardner tossed a three-hit shutout. Because the lefty pitched to contact, she threw an economical 78 pitches en route to her 15th victory of the spring. In her last three starts versus Green Bay, Gardner has allowed only one earned run and five hits in 21.0 innings.
Loyola closes out the regular season with a three-game series versus Wright State, May 4-5 at Loyola Softball Park.