Purdue runs past falling Gophers

The sweep ended with Minnesota’s program-worst 13th-straight loss.

Minnesota freshman Alex Davis makes an error while Purdue steals 2nd base on Sunday at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Image by Jules Ameel

Minnesota freshman Alex Davis makes an error while Purdue steals 2nd base on Sunday at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

by Marco LaNave

The Gophers softball team struggled to stop an aggressive base-running opponent this weekend and Minnesota played catch-up just as it has in recent weeks. Purdue used its speed throughout a 7-0, 11-2 sweep at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium that extended MinnesotaâÄôs losing streak to a program-record 13 games. âÄúIâÄôm disappointed; I didnâÄôt think we played well,âÄù co-head coach Lisa Bernstein said after SundayâÄôs 13th-straight loss. âÄúI felt like we were chasing a lot of balls today.âÄù The Big TenâÄôs leading base-stealing team swiped 14 bases against Minnesota (15-33, 1-13 Big Ten). âÄúI like playing against teams that have a lot of runners,âÄù said freshman catcher Kari Dorle, who threw out two base runners Saturday and drove in MinnesotaâÄôs only two runs of the weekend with her first RBIs since March 6. âÄúEverything helps, [we] just [have to] keep working on it.âÄù The GophersâÄô seven fielding errors led to six unearned runs. Sophomore pitcher Alissa Koch walked 13 batters and allowed 18 hits in falling to 0-19 this season. Boilermakers pitcher Suzie Rzegocki, who won both games, didnâÄôt allow a run in the seriesâÄô first 11 innings and contributed at the plate as well, with three hits and five RBIs in the two games. Third baseman Molly Garst had five hits, scored five runs and stole four bases in the series for Purdue (26-24, 7-7). Saturday: Purdue 7, Minnesota 0 The Boilermakers stole nine bases and Koch tied her season high by allowing eight walks in her sixth straight complete-game loss. âÄúI think we gave them too many opportunities with the walks,âÄù Bernstein said. âÄúI want us to be able to be a little bit more in command of our pitches.âÄù Rzegocki allowed four hits in her eighth shutout of the season. Purdue was successful on its first seven steal attempts on the way to a 5-0 third-inning lead. Dorle kept the Boilermakers runners silent, however, until they executed their third double steal of the game in a two-run seventh inning. Four Boilermakers stole two bases each. Big Ten stolen-base leader Liane Horiuchi stole two bases in three attempts, while Rzegocki, center fielder Ashley Barr and designated player Erika Petruzzi each stole two. Petruzzi and Garst each had two of PurdueâÄôs eight hits. The Gophers offense was shut out for the 16th time this season but only struck out a Big Ten season-low two times. âÄúWe were just focusing on getting hard hits and putting them in play and making [Purdue] play, too,âÄù said freshman shortstop Alex Davis, who went 3-for-3 with a second-inning single and doubles in the fourth and seventh innings. Davis and a pinch runner were stranded at third base in the fourth and seventh innings, respectively, in the GophersâÄô best chances to score. Junior Natalie Neal had a fifth-inning pinch-hit single for MinnesotaâÄôs other hit. Sunday: Purdue 11, Minnesota 2 Garst stole three bases, scored four runs and was one of four Boilermakers with multiple hits in a six-inning victory. Garst helped the Boilermakers score a first-inning run without a hit. She drew a leadoff walk, advanced on a sacrifice, stole third base and scored on a groundout by Rzegocki. An error, wild pitch and sacrifice put Gophers freshman Kelsey Klucas at third base with one out in the second inning, but Rzegocki struck out Neal and sophomore center fielder Dannie Skrove to end the threat. Rzegocki hit an RBI double in a two-run third inning. Petruzzi hit a leadoff triple and scored in the fourth and added a two-run double in the fifth to make it 7-0. Minnesota went hitless until a fifth-inning rally. The first four batters reached base, capped by DorleâÄôs two-run double off the right-field wall. Rzegocki departed after walking the bases loaded to put the tying run on deck with two outs. The left-handed Petruzzi was brought in to face left-handed junior first baseman Malisa Barnes, who grounded into an inning-ending fielderâÄôs choice. Rzegocki and Barr had two-run singles in a four-run sixth inning that put the eight-run mercy rule in play for Purdue.