Nashville, Tenn. - Tennessee State rallied on three separate occasions only to see the final game of the 2012 Tiger Classic slip away at the end. The Tigers dropped a 6-5 contest to Mercer on Sunday afternoon and fell to 7-15 in the final weekend of non-conference play.
Jennifer Givens would put TSU on the board early with her legs. The junior beat out a bunt to open the game and then needed only one pitch to cross home plate. Givens stole second base and took third as the throw made its way into centerfield. Mercer's Mackenzie Woody attempted to throw Givens out at third, but the ball arrived late, hit the speedster and ricocheted far enough away to scamper home safely.
The Bears picked up a two-out RBI double in the first and an unearned run in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead. The Tigers came right back in the top of the fifth inning, once again Givens would cross the plate for the TSU. Givens reached on a fielder's choice as the Mercer defense forced out Tayler Shimizu at second, after she reached on a walk. Givens once again stole second and advanced to third and home as Mercer pitcher Kassie Bailey had problems holding onto the ball during her delivery.
As soon as the Tigers tied the game, the Bears regained the lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Shea Morris surrendered a home run to allow Mercer to take a 3-2 lead into the sixth. But TSU come right back once again in the top of the sixth. With one out, Kate Morris reached base and advanced to second on an errant throw giving the Tigers a runner in scoring position. Savannah Gutierrez took advantage as she drove a ball through the left side of the infield into left center for an RBI double tying the game at 3-3.
Mercer picked up two more unearned runs in the sixth. The Tigers picked up two quick outs before an error gave the Bears some extended life. Mercer recorded back-to-back hits driving in the two runs for a 5-3 lead entering the seventh.
For the third time, TSU came charging back with two runs in the seventh. Kelly Troglin opened the inning with a single and moved to second when Alford was hit by a pitch. After a Jordan Rehl sacrifice bunt, Devin Amar ripped a ball into the left field corner for a double chasing home Troglin and Alford to tie the game at 5-5. A batter latter, Kate Morris singled into left field giving Amar an opportunity to round third and head for home challenging the Mercer defense. The Bears were up to the task and threw out Amar at home.
Mercer put the nail in the coffin in the bottom of the seventh as they took advantage of a hit and two Tiger errors. Tiffany Phillips led off with a single to second and advanced one base on a throwing error. Phillips moved to third on a bunt and set up the final play of the game. Alford backhanded a ball at shortstop and threw home to Amar in time. Phillips slammed on the breaks and headed back to third. Amar chased Phillips, but was not able to connect with Rehl during the run down allowing Phillips to return home for the winning run.
Olivia Gamache fell to 2-3 in a relief appearance where she surrendered just one hit and no earned runs in .2 innings of work. Gamache, who was selected to the All-Tournament team by appearing in all three of TSU's games without allowing an earned run and just one hit, replaced Shea Morris who gave up five runs, two earned, on nine hits with four strike outs.
Troglin and Amar paced the offensive attack with two hits apiece.
The Tigers return to Ohio Valley Conference play on Wednesday, March 21. The doubleheader with Austin Peay is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Tiger Field.
2012 Tiger Classic All-Tournament Team
MVP - McKenzie Woody, Mercer
Kristin Marko, Mercer
Jessica Holsinger, Mercer
Alicia Herron, Ohio State
Taylor Watkins, Ohio State
Vanessa Spears, Ohio State
Jen Sansano, St. Bonaventure
Christine Watson, St. Bonaventure
Olivia Gamache, Tennessee State
Nicole Burr, Mississippi Valley State
Ashley Byers, Belmont
Tournament Champion - Ohio State*
Tiger Classic - Day 3 Scores
Ohio State 8 St. Bonaventure 2
Belmont 7 Mississippi Valley State 3
Mercer 8 Mississippi Valley State 0 (5)
Mercer 6 Tennessee State 2
Tiger Classic - Day 2 Scores
Mercer 8 St. Bonaventure 0 (5)
Ohio State 15 Belmont 3 (6)
St. Bonaventure 3 Tennessee State 1
Mississippi Valley State 8 Belmont 1
Ohio State vs. Mercer - Cancelled
Tennessee State vs. Mississippi Valley State - Cancelled
Tiger Classic - Day 1 Scores
St. Bonaventure 7 Belmont 1
Ohio State 6 Tennessee State 0