Martin, Tenn. - The Tigers went toe-to-toe with the Ohio Valley Conference leading UT Martin Skyhawks in game two on Saturday afternoon before falling on a late inning home run. UTM took both ends of the double header with a five inning 10-1 win, followed by a 5-3 decision in game two. The Skyhawks increased their lead in the OVC as they improved to 12-2, 23-10 overall. The Tigers dropped to 10-20 on the season, 3-8 in conference play.
In game two, the Tigers got on the board in the first inning by taking advantage of a UTM miscue. With two outs, Tedra Alford dropped a bunt for a single and moved to second as Jordan Rehl worked a walk. Alford would score as Kate Morris reached as the Skyhawks could not convert the out at first. With the extra out, Kelly Troglin dropped a bunt single that plated Rehl to give the Tigers a quick 2-0 lead.
UT Martin would strike back in the bottom of the inning scoring on two unearned runs. The first came across on a first and third situation as a thrown ball got away to cut the two-run lead in half. The Skyhawks tied the game at 2-2 on a passed ball.
In the third, the Tigers surrendered another unearned run as they allowed the first batter of the inning to reach on a fielding error. With two outs, Leah Taylor punched a ball into right field allowing Sam McClure to score from second to give UTM a 3-2 lead.
TSU fought back in the sixth as starting pitcher Casey Vincent was lifted after a one-out walk to Alford. Chelsea Jones entered the game after dominating the Tigers in game one and immediately retired Rehl on a ground out that moved Alford to second. The Rehl grounder was key as Kate Morris stepped to the plate a dropped a base hit into right that chased home Alford to even the score at 3-3.
Game two starter Shea Morris was cruising along as she surrendered just three hits and struck out four through five innings. But after opening the sixth with her fifth and final strikeout, she issued her first free pass of the game. Two batters later, with two outs and a runner on third, Morris was tagged for a line drive home run by Lauren Smith that had just enough height to get over and stay just inside the left field foul pole.
The Tigers continued to fight in the their half of the seventh as Troglin hit a hard shot up the middle off of Jones and Brittany Davis hit a single into right, putting the tying runs on base. Savannah Gutierrez executed a perfect sacrifice bunt moving Troglin to third and pinch runner Susie Burke to second.
Tayler Shimizu came to the plate 0-for-2 on the day. She drove a ball to left that was caught at the fence in her first at bat and hit a hard line drive out to right in her second plate appearance. Shimizu was not able to deliver as Jones was able to get the freshman to pop out to the catcher,
Devin Amar came to the plate in a pinch hitting role as the Tigers last chance. Jones jammed Amar into a soft liner that shortstop Jenny Bain was able to charge and snag just before the ball fell safely to the ground.
Shea Morris is now 7-11 on the season and still sits atop the OVC strikeout leader board with 119.
Chelsea Jones picked up wins in each game and is now 16-4. Jones, second only to (Shea) Morris in strikeouts, threw a gem in the first game holding TSU to one earned run off one hit, one walk and two hit batters, while fanning five.
Jennifer Givens opened the game getting hit on a 3-2 pitch. She immediately stole second, her first of three on the day, improving her OVC leading total to 25. Givens scored from second as Aisha Walker recorded the Tigers lone hit of the game.
The Skyhwaks would retaliate fast scoring three runs, one earned, in the bottom half of the inning. UTM would use a seven-run fourth inning to solidify the 10-1 five inning win.
Olivia Gamache suffered the loss and is now 2-5 on the season.
On the day, Troglin finished 2-for-5 with an RBI and Alford was 1-for-3 with a walk, a sacrifice and two runs scored. Davis was 1-for-3, while Walker and Morris were each 1-for-5 with an RBI.
Givens scored once as she went 1-for-4 at the plate; was hit twice and converted three stolen bases in four attempts.
The Tigers and Skyhawks will finish the series at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 1.