Cardinals get the best of Cobbers in posting key conference sweep, 4-3, 7-2
Unfortunately for the Cobbers, they weren't able to do something they've accomplished just once in their last 13 meetings against the Cardinals win a game.
The Cardinals rode the bat of Nikki Jung (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) and the right arm of pitcher Megan Wallisch (Loveland, Colo.) to a key Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference sweep of the Cobbers Saturday afternoon, as Jung belted a pair of home runs and Wallisch allowed just one earned run 12 innings to lead SMU to 4-3 and 7-2 victories.
"This was a sweep we really needed," said SMU coach Jen Miller, whose team entered Saturday's play tied with Concordia and Saint Benedict for the third place in the conference standings and with only four teams advancing to the MIAC Tournament, one of those three teams is liking to be left on the outside looking in. "With the conference race so tight, every game from here on out is extra-important.
"We needed to get the job done today, and that's exactly what they did."
The Cardinals certainly had a flare for the dramatic in the opener, however.
Leading 3-0 heading into the top of the sixth thanks to a run-scoring triple by Danielle Geske (Rosemount, Minn.) and an RBI groundout by Megan Pulvermacher (Richland Center, Wis.) in the fourth and a solo home run by Jung in the fifth the Cardinals committed a costly, one-out error that resulted in three Concordia runs.
"It was like I was watching the Gustavus games all over again," said Miller, whose Cardinals committed four errors which directly resulted in four of GAC's five runs in Thursday's 2-0, 3-2 losses to the Gusties. "We gave (Gustavus) an extra out in both games, and it hurt us. And today, we did the same thing."
Fortunately for the Cardinals, the sting of that sixth-inning error didn't last long, as Geske led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and advanced to second when Cobber center fielder Emily Jensen couldn't field the ball cleanly. Geske moved to second on an infield single by Cassie Otte (Randolph, Minn.) and scored on a wild pitch.
"It was good to see us bounce right back," said Miller. "We didn't let (Concordia's) big inning affect us we just got back to business and got the job done."
There would be no late-inning Cobber heroics in Game 2, as SMU broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to seal the sweep. Jung provided the offensive' spark in the fifth, launching her team-leading fourth home run of the season a two-run shot while a two-out Concordia error accounted for two of the Cardinals' three sixth-inning tallies.
"We were very close to putting together two near-perfect games," said Miller. "We did a good job at the plate (collecting 15 hits), we got good pitching (Wallisch allowed just one earned run and struck out 12) and we were much better in the field (one error).
"Hopefully we can keep that going down the stretch."