TIGERS USE EXTRA INNINGS TO SWEEP EASTERN KENTUCKY
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Tennessee State needed extra innings for the second consecutive game to defeat Eastern Kentucky. Senior Candace Hildebrand drove in the winning run in the bottom of the eleventh inning to give the TSU a 3-2 victory at Tiger Field on Sunday afternoon. The sweep is the first in Ohio Valley Conference play for the Tigers and helped them improve to 12-12, 35-20 overall. The win today, along with losses by Austin Peay and UT Martin, moved the Tigers into fifth place in the standings. Eastern Kentucky fell to 12-11, 20-28, and dropped from second place to fourth. TSU jumped out quick in the first inning as freshman Tamara Perkins led-off with a double to left center. Two batters later, and with Perkins on third, junior Jennifer Gregory lifted a ball deep down the left field line. EKU left fielder Pam Webber tracked down the ball just as she crossed into foul territory allowing Perkins to tag up and score to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. The Tigers would threaten again in the third as they loaded the bases with two outs, but Hildebrand would ground out to end the inning. Hildebrand worked the first four innings scattering four hits and not allowing a runner passed second base. In the fifth inning, the Colonels' Shyenne Hussey led off with a single. Junior Amanda Vaught entered the game trying to preserve the win for Hildebrand. EKU catcher Jena Handley had other ideas as she hit a two-out single to center to drive in the tying run. The teams remained tied at 1-1 as they headed into extra innings. In the EKU portion of the ninth inning, Chanze Patterson ripped a two-out triple to right center to give the Colonels the opportunity to take the lead. Vaught would entice Amy Mayrhofer into a fly ball out to Perkins at second base. In the tenth, the teams began the international tiebreaker and EKU was able to push across a run to take a 2-1 advantage into the bottom of the inning. Junior Lauren Weber pinch ran for Vaught and started on second base, then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Erin Finneran. With two outs sophomore Melanie Cruz punched a ball over the head of Patterson at shortstop. Patterson ranged back, but was not able to grab the ball before it hit the ground. Weber scored easily to tie the game at 2-2 and send it to the eleventh. Hildebrand re-entered to pitch and held the Colonels scoreless to set-up the fireworks in the bottom of the inning. Gregory was placed on second and was sacrificed over to third by freshman Bridget Metzger. Hildebrand followed and drove an inside pitch on a line to the left centerfield fence. Gregory crossed home giving the Tigers a 3-2 victory and the sweep of EKU. The Tigers will close out the regular season with a three-game OVC series against UT Martin. The two teams will play a double header on Saturday, May 5, and a single game on Sunday, May 6. The games will be played at Tiger Field with a 6:30 pm start time on the first day and a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday.