NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The big innings haunted Tennessee State as they were swept in the first two games of the Ohio Valley Conference series at Belmont on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins kept their tournament hope alive with an 11-6 and a five inning, 12-0, sweep of the Tigers.
TSU moved to 10-42 overall and was official eliminated from playoff contention as they dropped to 3-20 in the OVC. The Bruins improved to 10-13 in conference play and 18-32 overall.
In game one, the Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead after Courtney Gearlds scored on a Belmont miscue in the first and a solo homerun in the second by Abi Stephens. The blast was the fifth of the season for the freshman and the second in consecutive games.
BU would get one back in the third off starter Lauren Powell before exploding for seven runs in the fourth. The Bruins scored four runs off Powell during the inning, before exiting in favor of Erica O’Kane.
Trailing 8-2, the Tigers used a three-run blast over the scoreboard in leftfield by Lauren Dreitlein to get back within three at 8-5. Gearlds and pinch runner Rea Sylvester scored on the drive. Gearlds was hit by a pitch for the 12th time this season and moved to third on a two-single by Joselynn Yates. Sylvester was in running for Yates.
Belmont responded with three runs of their own in the sixth to extend the lead to 11-5. Cariona Hassell picked up an RBI in the seventh on the second hit of the game for the sophomore. Hassell was joined by Danica Gleason, Yates, Dreitlein and Stephens in collecting two of the Tigers 12 hits. Lindsey Burgess and Maddi Clark collected the two remaining hits for the Big Blue.
Powell (4-14) was tagged with the loss as she struck out two while surrendering five runs on seven hits over the first 3.1 innings. O’Kane tossed the final 2.2 innings and was touched up for six runs on five hits and a walk in 2.2 innings.
The nightcap was all Belmont as the sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring five runs. BU followed up with another big inning, sending 11 batters to the plate in the third to tack on seven runs.
Shelby Willard earned her fourth win of the season as she fired a two-hit shutout against TSU. Dreitlein collected the Tigers first hit with a single to center to leadoff the second, before Gearlds ripped a ball down the third base line with one out in the third.
The Tigers used their whole staff in game two. Lauren Woodard (4-23) did not make it out of the first inning, surrendering five runs, four earned, on six hits and a walk in 0.1 innings of work. O’Kane tossed her second game in relief and worked 1.2 innings. The freshman pitcher was not able to slow down the Bruins, giving up six runs on seven hits and two walks.
Powell came in to pitch the final two innings of the game and issued a run on two hits and a walk.
The Tigers will look to snap a nine game skid in the final game of the series on Sunday afternoon at Rose Park. First pitch is scheduled at 1:00 p.m. and can be heard on tsutigers.com.