Sophomore Shelby Burchell
March 21, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For the second straight game No. 17 Tennessee (21-7, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) watched No. 6 Georgia (22-4, 3-3 SEC) rally from a late deficit to post a comeback win as the Bulldogs fought back from 6-1 down in the sixth inning to record a 7-6 (eight inn.) triumph on Sunday in the finale of a key league series at Lee Softball Stadium.
The Lady Vols got a second inning grand slam from senior first baseman Erinn Webb (1-for-3, four RBIs) and a two-run homer off the bat of sophomore designated player Shelby Burchell (2-for-4, two RBIs, two runs) in building its early lead.
Freshman right hander Ivy Renfroe fell to 11-2 in the circle this year, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits with three walks and four strikeouts over 7.1 innings of work.
"Well it was the exact same script as last night's game," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "It's tough to lose two of three to the number six-ranked team in the country when you had big leads in all three games. It's definitely related to youth with our team. Our kids played hard, and they're going to win down the road. This was a team loss, not just pitching-related. We could have made a couple of plays that would have prevented a loss. We were right in the game with them, but in the end, we were more passive and Georgia was more aggressive. Today was just one game in a tough conference schedule. We're proud of our team, but we still need some tweaking."
Renfroe opened the contest by striking out lead-off hitter Taylor Schlopy, but Georgia left fielder Megan Wiggins wasted no time getting the Bulldog offense started by doubling through the left side of the infield. Power-hitting third baseman Alisa Goler lifted a pop-up extremely high on the infield, and then first baseman Brianna Hesson grounded out harmlessly to first as UGA left a runner stranded in scoring position during the opening frame.
A strong wind blowing in from right likely cost UT a run in the bottom of the first as Tennessee freshman right fielder Kat Dotson blasted a shot to deep right. Traveling straight into the teeth of the wind, however, the ball died at the base of the wall as Jennie Auger caught the inning-ender while falling to her knees on the warning track.
Sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner got the Big Orange off to a good start in the bottom of the second by drawing a lead-off walk against Bulldog pitcher Erin Arevalo. Senior catcher Tiffany Huff followed by blasting a single back through the middle, placing two aboard with no one retired. Burchell packed the bags for UT by driving a 1-2 pitch through the left side of the infield. After a fielder's choice cut down the lead runner at the plate, Webb absolutely crushed an offering to center for a grand slam as Tennessee grabbed a big 4-0 lead. The grand slam marked the fourth by the Lady Vol squad during the 2010 campaign.
A lead-off walk issued to shortstop Laura Trout came back to hurt UT in the top of the third. After a groundout advanced the runner into scoring position, Schlopy ripped a one-out single back through the middle to plate Trout and cut UGA's deficit to 4-1. Wiggins lined out to center and then Goler lined to second, with Tennessee's defense making two solid plays to limit anymore scoreboard damage.
Freshman second baseman Lauren Gibson tried to get something started for the Lady Vols in the bottom of the fourth by sending a double the other way and just inside the third base bag for a one-out double. Webb followed by drawing a walk and suddenly the Orange & White had runners at first and second. Sophomore shortstop Ashley Andrews lifted the first pitch she received from reliever Alison Owen to center. UGA's Schlopy ran in and dropped what appeared to be a fairly routine catch, loading the bags for the top of the UT order. Unfortunately, freshman left fielder Raven Chavanne hit into a fielder's choice that cut down the lead runner at the plate for the second out. Then junior center fielder Kelly Grieve battled Owen over an 11 pitch at-bat before flying out to left field as the Big Orange missed a big opportunity by leaving the bases juiced.
Pauly christened Georgia's half of the fifth by lining a double off the wall in right center. Schlopy bounced to short, reaching safely on an infield base knock to put a pair of Bulldogs aboard and force a coaching visit to the circle. That seemed to settle things down for Renfroe as Wiggins popped up to second base for a big second out. Then Goler ripped one back up the middle but right info Renfroe's glove on the bounce as she turned and tossed on to Webb at first to maintain the 4-1 advantage.
Dotson granted the Lady Vols what proved to be an important lead-off runner in the fifth with a base knock through the right side of the infield. Following two quick outs it looked as if Tennessee might not add to its lead, but Burchell wouldn't have that. The Columbia, Tenn., native drilled a long ball just to the right of the scoreboard in left center for a two-run homer to improve the advantage to 6-1, UT.
Trying to rally once again much like they did on Saturday, the Red & Black got a one-out single to left off the bat of Razey in the sixth. Sandberg followed with a base knock down the left field line, putting a pair aboard and ending the day for Renfroe in the circle as sophomore Cat Hosfield entered in relief. The first pitch to Auger was bounced to second as freshman Melissa Brown briefly bobbled the ball, turned and fired to second for the force. On a try to first base for a double play, the umpire ruled Auger barely beat the throw, extending the UGA inning. That call hurt the Big Orange as Trout doubled into the gap in left center, bringing two Bulldogs across and cutting the lead to 6-3. Pauly made solid contact on a Hosfield offering but flew out harmlessly to sophomore Holly Baker in left field to end the inning.
Tennessee left runners stranded on second and third in the bottom of the sixth, bringing up Georgia for their last chance in regulation.
Things got off to a bad start for the Lady Vols in the seventh as Hosfield walked lead-off hitter Schlopy. Co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly summoned Renfroe back in for her second stint of the day, attempting to wrap things up. A fielding error on a bouncer through the infield off the bat of Wiggins eventually turned into an out as Schlopy was gunned down trying to move to third on the play on a strong throw in from Dotson. Goler stepped in next and bombed a two-run home run to left to bring UGA within 6-5. Following a Hesson walk, designated player Ashley Razey bounced a potential double play ball that was misplayed for the second UT error of the inning. That opened the door as a fielder's choice eventually allowed the tying run to score.
Eventually the teams would require an extra inning to settle things and Georgia took full advantage by getting the game-winning homer off the bat of lead-off hitter Pauly.
The Lady Vols were retired in order by Owen in the bottom of the eighth as the Bulldogs secured the series win over the Big Orange.
No. 17 Tennessee continues its eight-game SEC home stand on Tuesday, March 23, by hosting the Kentucky Wildcats for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. ET. Live stats will be provided via Gametracker through utladyvols.com.