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Walk-Off Grand Slam Seals Tennessee Win over Liberty
After Liberty held the Lady Vols to just one run through four innings, No. 14 Tennessee scored seven runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to walk away with an 8-0 win in the first round of the NCAA Knoxville Regional, Friday night.
Liberty went hitless in the contest, and only had two baserunners on a walk and a Tennessee miscue.
With the loss, the Lady Flames drop to 30-29 on the year, while the Lady Vols improve to 48-10.
Liberty will face ACC regular-season champion Georgia Tech in an elimination game tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. The Yellow Jackets fell to Oklahoma State earlier today, 2-1.
After a three-up, three-down Liberty showing in the top of the first, Raven Chavanne led off the opening Tennessee at-bat with a bunt single, and immediately stole second. Kat Dotson followed up with a groundout to short, moving Chavanne to third.
Kelly Grieve was up next, and grounded out to first for the second out. After cleanup hitter Shelby Burchell drew a walk, Liberty pitcher Katrina Johnson came up with a big strikeout, fanning Lauren Gibson to get out of the inning unscathed.
The second inning saw two 1-2-3 at-bats, as neither team could put a runner on base.
Liberty got its first baserunner in the top of the third, when Sammi Shivock reached on a throwing error by Tennessee shortstop Madison Shipman. She moved to second when Keely McMillon walked, putting runners on first and second with nobody out.
Next, both runners advanced on a well-placed sacrifice bunt by Amber DePasquale, and the Lady Flames moved back to the top of the batting order. But Liberty couldn't capitalize on the opportunity, stranding the runners when Ashley Bensinger grounded out to third and Jenny Law struck out.
The Lady Vols took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third on back-to-back two-out singles. Dotson reached on an infield single, beating the throw by Shivock at shortstop. She stole second, and scored when Grieve singled up the middle to drive in the first run of the game.
The Lady Flames couldn't respond with baserunners in the top of the fourth, as Meredith Crisante popped out, Kaylee West struck out and Kelly Strickland fouled out to quickly end the at-bat.
The bottom of the fourth mirrored the top, as Tennessee went 1-2-3 to close out the inning. Johnson picked up her second strikeout of Gibson, while Spigner flied out to center and Shipman grounded out to first.
After another quiet Liberty at-bat, Tennessee's bats exploded in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Chavanne singled to third, and continued on to second on a throwing error by Bensinger. She scored on the next play, when Dotson singled to right field. Grieve followed up with a single through the right side, and Burchell loaded the bases with a walk.
The score moved to 4-0 on the next play, when Gibson singled through the left side to bring in two runs. At that point, senior Tiffani Smith entered the game to relieve Johnson and attempt to halt the Tennessee rally.
But Liberty's problems continued, as Spigner drew a walk to load the bases once again. The Lady Flames couldn't get that last out, as Shipman ended the game with a walk-off grand slam to seal the 8-0 win.
Shipman was 1-for-4 with four RBIs and a grand slam, while Dotson went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored for the home team.
Johnson (15-14) gave up seven hits while striking out three Tennessee batters in 4.2 innings of work. Smith faced two batters, giving up a walk and the game-ending grand slam.
Ivy Renfroe (18-4) picked up the win in the circle, tossing her second no-hitter of the year while fanning six Lady Flames in the process.