Gophers Win Regional, Advance to Oregon
May 16-18, 2013

Sam Macken’s three-run homer in the last of the sixth gave Minnesota an 8-6 win over Auburn and the championship of the Division I Minnesota Regional at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers came back to beat the Tigers after losing the first game to Auburn on a home run in the bottom of the eighth by Megan Abbott. Minnesota advances to the Super Regional in Eugene, Oregon, and a best-of-three series against the Oregon Ducks with the winner going to the College World Series in Oklahoma City.

In its regional opener Minnesota beat Wisconsin, Green Bay 10-1 in five innings on a one-hitter by senior Sara Moulton for her 27th win of the season.

The next day, Sara Groenewegen pitched 6-1/3 innings of hitless relief as the Gophers beat North Dakota State 4-1 in 10 innings. With the score 1-1 in the fourth inning, Groenewegen relieved Moulton with two out and runners on first and second. She struck out Logan Moreland to end the inning and struck out all six Bison batters in the fifth and sixth. Groenewegen made it eight strikeouts in a row by fanning Jenna Isbel to start the sevent. Alex Sobrero broke the streak by popping out, and Moreland walked, the only baserunner off Groenewegen, who then got Cheyenne Garcia to pop out and send the game into extra innings.

The Gophers broke the tie in the 10th on back to back doubles by Macken and Kaitlyn Richardson. Erica Meyer later singled home two runs. Krista Menke, going for her 30th win of the year, pitched a complete game for the Bison.

On Sunday, Minnesota came from behind against Auburn, tying the game with three runs in the top of the sixth, a rally capped by Groenewegen’s two-run homer. However, Jenna Abbott ended the game with a home run in the last of the eighth off Groenewegen, forcing another game.

Auburn pinch-hitters came through in the early innings of the final game. Madi Gipson’s two-out, two-run single put the Tigers ahead 2-1 in the top of the second. The Gophers came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning. In the third, Auburn loaded the bases with one out, and McKenzie Kilpatrick hit for Austyn West and hit a grand slam off Moulton for a 6-3 lead.

The Gophers score twice in the fourth to cut the lead to one. In the sixth Bree Blanchette drew a leadoff walk, and Tyler Walker singled up the middle. Macken then drilled a pitch, sending over the fence in right to provide the winning margin. Left-hander Nikki Anderson, who pitched the final 3-2/3 innings, retired Auburn in the seventh and got the win.

“That was the second game that we saw her,” said Macken, referring to Auburn pitcher Lexi Davis, “so I had a lot of at-bats against her. I mean I was seeing her but I wasn’t really getting lucky I guess. Then she threw me my pitch and I took advantage of it.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said Minnesota coach Jessica Allister. “To fight all day, the pitchers leaving it all out on the mound, the offense leaving it all out there, the defense coming up with some huge plays . . . We knew going into it that it wasn’t going to be easy. We knew we were going to have to embrace the hard and just continue to fight through and the team embodied that.”

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