Katie Wingert's walkoff home run propels Rutgers to win over LIU Brooklyn
Halfway through the game, the Rutgers softball team looked like it lost all of its momentum when LIU Brooklyn took a 1-run lead over the Scarlet Knights (26-22, 9-11).
But, the game isn’t over until it’s over.
Rutgers tied up the game 5-5 to lead into extra innings where freshman catcher Katie Wingert scored yet another game-winning home run for the Knights to finish in a final score of 7-5.
Coming in at the top of the Big Ten and No. 24 in the NCAA leaderboard, Wingert has hit 16 home runs in her first season on the Banks. She also earned the program’s first Big Ten Freshman of the Week award since 2015 on April 15 for her performance against Penn State.
Inning by Inning
Senior infielder Jess Hughes got the ball rolling down centerfield for a single, but stole second base while Wingert was at bat. Hughes made her way to third and ran all the way home thanks to a single RBI from junior utility Anyssa Iliopoulos that put Rutgers on the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, the Blackbirds (29-16) only logged a single hit in the first two innings. The third inning saw two on first and second, but that’s as far as they got.
At the bottom of the third, Hughes started with a walk as she got hit by the first pitch from LIU Brooklyn. Wingert followed with a single RBI to put her and Hughes on the base. Iliopoulos sacrificed a bunt to put Wingert and Hughes in position to score.
Junior infielder Nicole Bowman sealed the deal with a double RBI to left centerfield, bringing Wingert and Hughes home for a 3-0 lead over the Blackbirds.
At the top of the fourth inning, LIU Brooklyn responded with two crossing home and coming within 1 run of the Knights at 3-2. Rutgers quickly lost that lead when the Blackbirds scored a double RBI in the fifth inning to take over the lead for the first time in the game, 4-3.
The Knights lost their groove after LIU Brooklyn took over, going scoreless in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. On the other hand, the Blackbirds scored another run after back-to-back doubles moved Rutgers behind the ball and down by two in a score of 5-3 at the end of the sixth.
Junior right-handed pitcher Cambria Keefer subbed in to pitch for senior right-handed pitcher Whitney Jones and was able to close out the sixth while keeping LIU Brooklyn to only one hit at the top of the seventh.
The Knights would come from behind when it took the plate. Senior outfielder Nicolette Anico and sophomore utility Madyson Cole filled second and third base in the seventh inning. They headed home when Hughes hit to left centerfield. Breathing a sigh of relief, Rutgers was tied with the Blackbirds at 5-5 to move into an eighth inning.
The Knights didn't play Price until the extra innings. Price was dominant in holding Indiana at bay last weekend, and she did the same again when she took over the mound. LIU Brooklyn only got one hit in the eighth and ninth inning with the latter being the quickest inning of the game.
At the bottom of the ninth, Rutgers swung it out of the park with Wingert’s homer that brought Hughes and her to close out the game at home.
This weekend, the Knights will step up to the plate again in a three-game series against Michigan State in its last home series of the season.
The Spartans (15-32, 3-16) are running on a 10-game losing streak to Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan and their most recent three-game series loss to Northwestern.
With Michigan State currently ranked at the bottom of the Big Ten, Rutgers has the chance to sweep its last three remaining games of the Big Ten season before the conference tournament the following weekend in Bloomington, Indiana.
If the Knights are able to sweep Michigan State, they’ll be going into the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 6 seed — Rutgers’ highest position since its No. 7 seed in 2015 and first tournament appearance since 2016.
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