DEKALB, Ill. - Toledo suffered its 11th one-run loss in the opening game of a Friday doubleheader at Northern Illinois, 6-5, before losing steam and falling in the second contest to the Huskies,11-2. The Rockets fall to 15-33 overall and 7-13 in Mid-American Conference play, and will travel to Kalamazoo, Mich. for a 2:00 p.m. Saturday contest against Western Michigan (15-32, 6-12 MAC).
After a delayed start due to rainy weather, Toledo had the opening game in hand while carrying a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh. However, a two-out error proved costly as it allowed two runs to score to cut the lead to a run, 5-4. NIU's Amanda Sheppard (3-for-3; 3 RBI) came up next and ended the game with a two-run blast to left field.
UT pitcher Marla Gooding (10-20) was deserving of the win in game one, after giving up three earned runs on eight hits through 6-plus innings.
The loss affected the freshman right-hander's start in the next game, as NIU got to her early with six runs and forced her out of the game in the second frame. The Huskies put up nine runs in that inning and cruised for the five-inning win.
Junior Erinn Wright hit her third home run, a two-run shot that put the visitors up 3-0 in the first inning of game one. Senior Morgan Smith powered the UT offense with three hits (3-for-4; RBI, 2B) to snap a 2-for-21 skid. Junior Lani Ernst (2-for-3; RBI, BB) and senior Kristen Roznoski (2-for-4) each collected two hits as UT outpaced NIU 11-7 in base knocks.
Game two was a different story as NIU outslugged the Midnight Blue & Gold 13-7. Sophomore Alyssa Smith knocked in both runs on a single in the second and sacrifice fly in the fourth. Senior Lindsey Tobias was also perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a double and run scored. Freshman Jess Lemieux tallied two hits, while Morgan Smith tripled for her only hit in the nightcap.
With two games left, UT finds itself tied for the final MAC tournament bid with Akron. The Zips were also swept on Friday and will host Eastern Michigan on Saturday and Sunday. EMU, WMU and Buffalo are right behind UT and Akron, so the final tournament bid will likely not be known until all league games are complete.
Following Saturday's matchup, the Rockets and Broncos will end the season with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch on Sunday.