Robben robs Flames with walk-off double

first_imgTuesday night’s duel between Wisconsin and the University of Illinois-Chicago had all the makings of a potential extra-inning marathon, but Ricci Robben made sure the Badgers’ grueling three-day stretch wouldn’t drag on any longer than it had to. Robben’s walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the seventh sent UW (24-13, 5-5) home with a 4-3 victory, much to the relief of a weary Badger pitching staff.Letty Olivarez was on the hill for the Badgers after tossing a three-hit complete game victory over Indiana just one day earlier, but the pinpoint control Olivarez demonstrated Monday afternoon wasn’t on display Tuesday night, as she surrendered a walk to Sarah Clynes to lead off the game. Olivarez got out of the first without any trouble, but the Flames got to her in the second.With two on and two outs, Olivarez gave up an RBI single to Flames leftfielder Brittany Dixon, and UIC took a 1-0 lead.Theresa Boruta led off the Badger half of the second with a double to left and moved to third on an Olivarez sacrifice bunt. Lynn Anderson followed with a flawlessly executed suicide squeeze to score Boruta from third and even the score. Senior centerfielder Sam Polito also singled in the inning to extend her hitting streak to a team-high 12 games.The third inning saw a free pass come back to bite UW, as Olivarez issued a one-out walk to IUC catcher Elizabeth Jacoby. Olivarez would get the next hitter to ground to second base for the second out of the inning, but couldn’t escape the frame without damage. Jacoby would come around to score from first when shortstop Nicole Robinson hit a double to the gap in right-center to give the Flames a 2-1 advantage.The seesaw game would continue in the fourth, as Wisconsin catcher Joey Daniels cranked a one-out double off the rightfield fence. Polito followed with a single to center, and advanced to second when centerfielder Ashlee Ackerman’s throw wasn’t in time to catch Daniels at the plate.After a Katie Hnatyk walk and an Athena Vasquez strikeout, Robben connected on an RBI single to left. Polito scored easily on the play, increasing her all-time runs record, which now stands at 130.Olivarez returned to the circle for the fifth with a 3-2 lead. And after getting ahead with two quick strikes to pitcher Sarah Clynes, Olivarez delivered a seemingly good pitch high and outside to the Flames’ leadoff hitter. But Clynes just went with it and poked a double to left-center field.Clynes later moved to third on an Ashlee Ackerman sacrifice bunt, and scored the tying run on a single to left by designated hitter Brooke Frydendall.Five innings would be all for Olivarez on the day, as head coach Chandelle Schulte called on her senior ace, drop-baller Eden Brock, to get the Badgers through the final two frames.”I thought they had [Letty’s] number today,” Schulte said of her freshman hurler. “She gave up too many walks, and you can’t give up free bases in this game.”Brock entered the game and proved to be the stabilizing force UW had been in need of all day. She looked in total control of Flames hitters from her first pitch, striking out the side in the sixth inning, later getting two groundouts and another strikeout for a 1-2-3 seventh.With the score knotted at three apiece, Badger third baseman Athena Vasquez strode to the plate to lead off the bottom of the inning. After taking a few moments to shake off the pain from fouling a pitch off her shin for the second time on the night, Vasquez lined a double to left field in what might be one of the grittier at-bats for any Badger this season.”She was really tired,” Schulte said of Vasquez. “But you just saw the determination in her. I didn’t know if she was going to get on, but I knew she was going to hit it hard. She’s a determined kid, and when you’re determined, a lot of things can happen.”Vasquez’s workman-like approach provided designated hitter Ricci Robben the opportunity to be a hero, but Schulte wasn’t about to give her a completely green light.”When Ricci got up there with a runner at second, the debate is do you bunt [Vasquez] to third, or do you let her swing away?” Schulte said. “Well, she had two hits, so I said ‘If you get one strike, you have to bunt.'”Robben took the ultimatum to heart, and drilled the first pitch she saw to the wall in left, scoring Vasquez from second and giving Wisconsin the win. “She got me out the first time on an inside pitch so I figured they were going to pitch to me,” Robben said. “I was just looking for a pitch I could hit hard somewhere for a base hit.”last_img

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