CHARLESTON, Ill. – Tennessee State took a lead into the bottom of the sixth inning in game number two only to fall in heart breaking fashion at Eastern Illinois on Saturday. The Panthers used a four run sixth inning to come from behind to steal a 6-5 win away from TSU. EIU need just five innings to secure game one, 12-0, to earn the Ohio Valley Conference sweep.
Tennessee State falls to 9-30 overall and 2-16 in the OVC. The losses put the Tigers backs against the wall to be one of eight to qualify for the conference championships. Eastern Illinois improved to 16-22 and has moved into sixth place at 11-8 in the OVC.
EIU owned the opening game from the start as they scored four runs in the first and added eight in the third. Freshman pitcher Jessica Wireman would make it stand as she allowed one hit, a walk and hit a batter.
Lauren Dreitlein picked up the lone hit with a double to right center to lead off the second. The junior would be stranded on the base paths as Wireman retired the next three Tigers in order.
Kate Morris extended her on base streak to eight games with a walk to lead off the fifth, but was eliminated from the base path on a fielder’s choice by Tayler Shimizu. Chelsea Buchanan reached base as she was hit by a pitch giving TSU two runners on for the first time on the day, but to no avail as Wireman, who improved to 8-10, would entice a game ending ground ball.
The Tigers would get off to a fast start in game two with hits by Courtney Gearlds and Joselynn Yates. Lindsey Burgess made the hits count as she hammered a Michelle Rogers offering over the fence in center, giving TSU an early 3-0 lead.
Tennessee State continued to add pressure in the second as a single by Jasmine Matchen chased Rogers from the circle. The hit was the first for Matchen in her TSU career.
Wireman entered for the Panthers and was greeted by what seemed to be a single off the bat of Danica Gleason. The ball landed in center, but Matchen had to wait to be sure it was not caught and was forced out and second base, giving Gleason a fielder’s choice.
Gleason would steal second base and would be joined on the base path by Kailey Richard who was hit by a Wireman offering. Yates followed with her second hit of the game, allowing Gleason to scamper home extending the Tigers lead to 4-0.
The Panthers tried to charge back with a two-run home run in the third, but starter Taylor Green continued to get the better of EIU for the first five innings. The junior held EIU to four hits and two walks, while striking out four during that time frame.
Entering the game, Matchen had stepped to the plate only twice on the season. The junior had struck out and collected a sacrifice fly through the first 38 games of 2015. Matchen, celebrating her birthday on Saturday, was forced into the offensive lineup, due to injuries, and came up big as she delivered her third hit of the game with a rocket down the third base line with one out in the sixth.
The Hopkinsville, Ky., native moved to second on a Gleason single and moved to third as the ball got away from the Panthers centerfielder. Gleason advanced to second on the play.
With two outs, EIU attempted to pick off Matchen at third with a snap throw that ended up in left field. Matchen regained her footing and sprinted home to give, what seemed to be, an insurance run for TSU.
Leading 5-2, Green entered the circle and registered the first out. Hannah Cole stepped into the box looking to atone for her throwing error in the top of the inning that allowed Matchen to score. The EIU catcher delivered as she drove a towering shot over the centerfield fence to cut the lead to 5-3.
EIU would be patient as they loaded the bases on Green with two walks and a single. Matchen would take over in the circle looking to stop the Panthers and earn her third save of the season.
Eastern Illinois had other ideas as they used two hits to plate three runs and take a 6-5 lead into the final frame.
Wireman would make the lead stand as she sat down the Tigers in order to improve to 9-10, as she pitched the final six innings surrendering four hits, a walk and a hit batsman.
Green suffered the loss and is now 5-13.
The Tigers will conclude its 10-game road swing with a twin bill at SIU Edwardsville on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00pm CT and can be seen on the OVC Digital Network.