UM’s Betsa shakes off wildness to mow down MSU
Ann Arbor – Megan Betsa battled through control problems Tuesday night to help Michigan continue its dominance over Michigan State with a 3-1 victory Tuesday at Alumni Field for its 19th consecutive win in the rivalry.
The No. 17 Wolverines (32-9-1, 12-2) entered the day a half-game behind first-place Minnesota after suffering their second Big Ten loss of the season Saturday at Maryland.
Betsa, a senior right-hander, was far from duplicating her performance from a week ago when she matched a career-high with 17 strikeouts in a 5-1 win over the Spartans.
Betsa had 14 strikeouts in the rematch, including the side to end the game with 164 pitches, but she also walked seven, one intentionally.
“I made it a lot harder on myself than I needed to tonight, but it’s just about fighting and that’s what I had to do,” said Betsa who improved to 18-6.
Betsa worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the sixth by striking out Ebonee Echols after intentionally walking Lea Foerster who entered the night with a .405 average with 10 homers.
“Both of the previous at-bats (strikeouts) we were (getting) her on changeups and outside pitches so we were sticking to the same game plan and it worked in our favor,” said Betsa of striking out Echols for a third time to end the threat in the sixth after the Spartans had scored their lone run to pull within 2-1.
Betsa walked four in the first four innings, but worked her magic when she needed it to get out of trouble multiple times, starting with a called third strike on Lexi White for her nation-leading 300th strikeout with two runners on to in the top of the fourth.
The Wolverines used the momentum from Betsa’s strikeout by breaking the scoreless tie with two runs in the bottom half of the inning.
After Abby Ramirez led off with a single, Kelly Christner was hit by a pitch and Lindsay Montemarano put down a two-strike sacrifice bunt to push the runners into scoring position for Katie Alexander who hit a grounder to third and the throw home eluded the catcher, allowing the runs to score.
The Spartans did reach Betsa for a run in the fifth when McKenzie Long lined an RBI single off the glove of Ramirez, the shortstop, but Betsa retired the next two batters to strand runners on first and second.
The Wolverines increased their lead to 3-1 in the fifth with Ramirez’s RBI single, which scored pinch-runner Nikki Wald whole stole second.