March 9, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --Rainey Gaffin's pinch-hit RBI double in the sixth proved to be the difference in Saturday's pitchers' duel between Ivy Renfroe and Leslie Jury, lifting No. 8/10 Tennessee to a 2-1 win over No. 1/2 Alabama at Lee Stadium.
The UT win marks the first time since 2007 that the Lady Vols have knocked off a No. 1 team in back-to-back games.
Tennessee (21-3, 2-0 SEC) struck first with a run in the bottom of the first but Alabama (22-3, 0-2 SEC) answered with a score in the top of the second to even the game at 1-1. The teams combined to leave 15 runners on base (seven for the Crimson Tide, eight for the Lady Vols) in an edge-of-your-seat contest where every play mattered. In the end, it was Gaffin's knock to center field that Haylie McCleney dropped after hitting the wall that proved to be the game's key play.
Ivy Renfroe (8-1) got stronger as the game progressed and finished with seven strikeouts and just one run allowed over seven solid frames for her fifth complete game of the season.
Jury (8-1) suffered her first loss of the season and struck out six batters with two earned runs allowed over six innings.
In the bottom of the first, Dotson connected for a one-out single up the middle and stole second base in the next at-bat. Gibson plated her from second with an RBI single to the outfield to give UT the 1-0 edge.
Alabama would not stay down for long. Danae Hays was hit by a pitch to open the third inning. Three batters later, Andrea Hawkins clubbed a single down the right field line to score Hays from second base and make it a 1-1 ballgame.
Tennessee left the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, missing out on an opportunity to take command of the game when Jury induced a lineout to left field with two outs.
Davin came up with a big leadoff single to left field to open the bottom of the sixth. Hannah Akamine's sacrifice bunt to third moved Davin into scoring position. Two batters later, Gaffin made her SEC debut as a pinch hitter. On a 2-2 count, Gaffin hammered a pitch high and to the wall in center field. McCleney drifted back to the wall to make the catch, but upon impact with the padding, she dropped the ball. The call was disputed, but the ruling on the field by the umpires that the ball was dropped stood.
The Lady Vols and the Crimson Tide will conclude their season series on Sunday when they play at 1:30 p.m. ET. Be sure to reset your clocks as Sunday marks the "spring forward" part of daylight savings time.
The game will feature a free live video broadcast through UTSports.com with Jeff Jacoby on the call. The game can also be heard on The Sports Animal, WNNL 990 AM. There will also be free live statistics and a free live interactive blog through UTSports.com. Sunday's game is sold out, but there are still a limited number of student tickets available.
Sunday is also Family Day, so the first 150 kids 12 and under will eat for free. There will also be a pre-game kids carnival with fun activities.