TIGERS FALL IN DOUBLEHEADER TO UT MARTIN, PLAYOFF HOPES IN JEOPARDY
NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The Tigers lost both ends of a double header to UT Martin in front of 486 fans at Tiger Field on Saturday night. The Skyhawks used an inside-the-park home run to win game one 4-3 and needed eight innings before taking the nightcap, 3-0. The Skyhawks improve to 28-31 and clinch a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament as they moved to 13-12 in conference play. The Tigers fall to 31-22, 12-14, and have dropped back to seventh place in the OVC. To advance to the tournament, TSU will have to win tomorrow's finale with UTM and will need Austin Peay to lose to Eastern Kentucky. UT Martin started the scoring in the first game with a two-run third inning. Ashley Benbow hit her conference leading seventh triple of the season to chase home Stacey Weaver and Brittany Nash. The Skyhawks 2-0 lead was short-lived as the Tigers responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Sophomore Melanie Cruz singled to center driving home senior Erin Finneran to cut the lead to 2-1. After a Cruz stolen base, junior Jennifer Gregory punched a ball into shallow left field allowing freshman Tamara Perkins to tie the game 2-2. Ashton Strode entered the game for starter Kara Harper and proceeded to retire the first two batters she faced. Strode uncorked a wild pitch to the third batter she faced that brought home Cruz and give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Benbow would pick up her second triple of the game with a shot to the fence in right center. The Tiger relay throw was in time, but the Skyhawks left fielder was able to get in just before the tag. Two pitches later Benbow scored on a wild pitch by TSU starter Candace Hildebrand to tie the game at 3-3. UT Martin would strike in the top of the seventh with a very seldom seen play. Greer Long hit a hard line drive down the right field line that Tiger outfielder Christy Hill broke hard in attempt to catch the ball. Hill left her feet but came up short as the ball continued deep into the right field corner. Long was able to score easily for the inside-the-park home run and the 4-3 lead. Perkins hit a one-out double to centerfield that chased Strode from the game. Paij Lintz entered for the Skyhawks and was able to strike out Cruz before walking Gregory. Freshman Bridget Metzger was close to being the hero, as she put a charge into a 2-1 pitch down the left field line that tailed foul before it cleared the 225 foot fence. Lintz would strike out Metzger on the next pitch to earn her second save of the year. Strode (7-10) earned the win working 4.1 innings surrendering just two hits and two walks. Hildebrand (17-12) took the loss throwing all seven innings and giving up six hits, while striking out one. Game two was a pitchers duel as Lintz and junior Amanda Vaught each threw seven innings of shutout ball. The Skyhawks challenged in the third as Megan Van Arsdale tried to score from second on a single by Weaver. Hill charged the sharply hit ball to right field and threw a strike to Finneran who blocked off Van Arsdale to end the threat. Lintz was working on a no-hitter through five and a third before Perkins lined a ball into left field off the glove of an outstretched reach by Van Arsdale at third. With the hit, Perkins increased her consecutive hit streak to ten games. The flood gates opened in the eighth inning when Savannah Roberts dropped a bases loaded fly ball just over the outstretched reach of Metzger at short stop to bring home Nash. Laura Roberts followed with a similar ball into right field that Perkins was not able to pull in from her second base position. The Roberts hit brought in two runs and gave UTM a 3-0 lead. Once again, TSU would charge back getting their first two batters of the inning on base. Cruz followed with a ground ball to the pitcher that advanced Finneran to third and Perkins to third. Gregory followed with a hard line drive up the middle that seemed destined for centerfield. Long made a diving grab to prevent any damage to UTM. For the second straight game, Lintz would strike out Metzger to end the game. Lintz improved her record to 5-5 on a three-hit shutout where she walked two and fanned six. Vaught (16-9) suffered the loss on eight hits and one walk, while striking out ten. Perkins paced the Tigers at the plate finishing the night 4-for-8 with a double and a run scored. The two teams will close out the regular season with a single game on Sunday at Tiger Field. Game time is set for 1 p.m. with the senior day ceremonies beginning at 12:40 p.m.