Spartans Sweep Gophers

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Caitlin Mahoney went 4-for-6 with seven RBI, as Michigan State swept conference foe Minnesota at Old College Field on Saturday. State took a 3-1 win in the conclusion of Friday's postponed contest, and posted a 7-6 come-from-behind victory in the final game of the series. With the two wins head coach Jacquie Joseph recorded her 400th career victory at Michigan State on Saturday, while pitchers Lesley Noel (6-3) and Megan Hair (6-2) each improved their 2006 records from the circle.

In game one, an error by the Spartan left fielder scored Minnesota's Lindsey Erickson for a 1-0 Gopher lead after the top of the first inning. Green and White pitcher Lesley Noel (6-3) faced just 11 batters through the next three innings before multiple lightning strikes forced a 45 minute game delay. The break was all MSU's designated player Caitlin Mahoney needed when she blasted a three-run shot over the left field fence for a 3-1 Spartan advantage.

Due to multiple lightning strikes, the conclusion of Friday's game was postponed until Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. In the finish, Noel stayed dominant despite the overnight delay, holding the Gopher bats hitless through the final two innings.

Abby Lincoln and Gina Mondo each posted one run, while Mahoney paced the Spartan bats with three RBI and two hits at the plate. Noel allowed two hits and one run, pitching her fifth complete game of the year.

Michigan State opened scoring early in game two, posting two runs in the top of the first. With the bases full of Spartans, Mahoney ripped a double to right field scoring Nikki Nicosia and Nicole Mercado for a 2-0 lead.

UM posted three runs in the bottom of the second inning, when pinch hitter Katie Meyer singled to left, scoring Shannon Stemper from third. An infield error allowed two more runs to cross the plate for a 3-2 Gopher lead. Minnesota added two runs in the bottom of the third for a 5-2 advantage.

In the sixth, pinch runner Amy Szawara advanced on a wild pitch, Nikki Nicosia walked and Mercado singled to left to load the bases. Szawara scored on a Feenstra walk, and Mahoney ripped a two-RBI single to right for a 5-5 deadlock. With two outs in the sixth, Feenstra scored on a wild pitch and Kara Weigle hit an RBI-double to center extending the lead to 7-5.

Minnesota posted one run in the bottom half of the sixth, however Hair downed the side in order in the seventh to secure the 7-6 win.

Mahoney tallied four RBI in game two, while Weigle added two hits and one RBI. The trio of Rachel Turney, Noel and Hair allowed nine hits with six strikeouts in the combined effort.

The Spartans continue 2006 play on April 4 with a 3:30 p.m. doubleheader vs. Oakland University at Old College Field. MSU resumes Big Ten action April 7 vs. Purdue. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. in East Lansing.

Minnesota Series Notes:

* With a two-game total of seven RBI, Caitlin Mahoney has 16 runs batted in on the year. She is just the third MSU player to tally a four-RBI game this season, and now has three multi-RBI contests this year.

* Gina Mondo's hit in game one moved her hit streak to nine games, the best by a Spartan this season.

* Kara Weigle also hit well for the Green and White on Saturday, going 4-for-6 in the two games. The Naples, Fla., native now has seven multi-hit games on the year, putting her fourth on the team in that category.

* The run given up in the first inning of game one halted a stretch of 23.1 scoreless innings for sophomore pitcher Lesley Noel. Noel did not give up a run for the remainder of the contest to notch her fifth complete game of the 2006 campaign.

* The double play by Minnesota in game one was just the second completed against Michigan State this year.

* State is now 12-2 when scoring four to nine runs and evens its record to 4-4 in one-run contests.

* In the second game, Minnesota out-hit MSU, 9-7, marking just the second time this season the Spartans have been out hit and won the game.