NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tigers used an Ashley Haynes home run and a strong pitching performance to earn a split to open Ohio Valley Conference play at home on Saturday. Tennessee State picked up a 4-1 victory in game two of the twin bill, after dropping the first game 1-0.
TSU is now 13-17 on the season and EKU is 11-11, as both teams start OVC play at 1-1.
Hannah St. Clair and Leanna Pittsenbarger went toe-to-toe in game one to produce an old fashion pitcher’s duel. Both pitchers went the distance and allowed just three hits between the two of them.
EKU picked up a Christina Ciolek double in the first and a Shannon McQueen single in the fourth. McQueen’s single was a high hopper over St. Clair’s head and fielded behind second base by Lindsey Burgess, giving McQueen time to leg out the two-out single. On the play, Lauren Mitchell scampered home from third to give the Colonels a 1-0 lead.
Pittsenbarger would make the score hold up as she kept the Tigers off the base paths for most of the game. Tayler Shimizu earned a walk to leadoff the third, but was stranded on second after a sacrifice bunt. Shimizu was the lone Tiger to reach base on the EKU pitcher until Burgess stepped to the plate with two outs in the sixth. The sophomore missed tying the game by a foot as she hit just underneath the top of the fence in left center. The Burgess double was the only hit Pittsenbarger would surrender.
The EKU pitcher earned the win with six strikeouts, while St. Clair fell to 2-5 surrendering three walks and striking out four.
The Tigers wasted little time jumping on Pittsenbarger in the backend of a double dip, as Ashley Haynes drove a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for a quick 2-0 lead. Haynes drove in Kate Morris, who began a two-out rally in the first with a single into left center.
The Tigers extended their lead in the fourth inning on a two-run single off the bat of Rebekka Gross. Haynes led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a single by Jayna Hanawahine. The two runners advanced 60-feet on a Shimizu sacrifice bunt, to set up the clutch hit by Gross.
Olivia Gamache kept the Tigers in front as she held the Colonels to two hits and four walks over the first six innings of play. After allowing a leadoff walk in the seventh, Shea Morris entered for Gamache. Morris pitched the final inning, striking out one, walking one and was touched for a hit.
Gamache improved to 4-6 on the season, as Morris collected her fifth save of the season. Pittsenbarger took the loss and is now 8-6.
Haynes and Kate Morris each finished 2-for-3, as Hanawahine, Gross and Courtney Gearlds all picked up a hit in game two.
The final game of the series is scheduled for 1:00pm on Sunday at Tiger Field. The games can be seen on the ovcdigitalnetwork.com.