No. 4 Alabama edges No. 14 Georgia to advance to SEC tournament semifinals
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Alabama needed just three hits to defeat Georgia in Thursday's quarterfinal matchup at the 2015 SEC Tournament, as a pair of RBIs by Marisa Runyon and a masterful performance by Alexis Osorio in the circle led the Crimson Tide to a narrow 2-1 win.
Alabama (42-11) and Georgia (40-14) were locked in a pitcher's duel for the majority of the game, as neither team scored more than one run in an inning. Osorio (17-7) had a dominant outing in the circle, allowing just one unearned run on two hits with 12 strikeouts against one of the SEC's top power-hitting offenses.
"I thought Alexis was awesome," said coach Patrick Murphy. "Every time Georgia swings, we hold our breath. Pitching a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts doesn't happen very often against them. The three keys in postseason softball are defense, starting pitching and key hits. Marisa Runyon got the key hit when we needed it most."
Runyon drove in both of the Tide's runs, hitting a first inning sacrifice fly and a timely sixth-inning RBI single that drove in the go-ahead run. Alabama has now won 16 consecutive opening games at the SEC Tournament, stretching back to 2000.
Georgia starter Brittany Gray (14-6) pitched a strong complete game with just two runs allowed on three hits but the offense could not back her up, as they would only get a runner on base three times in the game. Georgia's lone run of the game scored on a fourth inning fielding error.
Alabama manufactured its way to an early lead in the bottom of the first, as Demi Turner and Haylie McCleney both advance to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Jadyn Spencer and then moved up another 60 feet on a sacrifice fly by Runyon to make it 1-0.
With a runner on second and one out in the top of the fourth, Georgia's Alex Hugo beat out an infield single but an errant throw on the play allowed the runner to score from third, tying the game at 1-1 on the error. Back-to-back strikeouts ended the half-inning and limited the damage with the score now tied at the halfway point of regulation.
The pitcher's duel would continue until the bottom of the sixth, as McCleney drew a leadoff walk and was then sacrificed into scoring position, putting the potential go-ahead run at second.
Runyon battled to a full count and blasted a hard single up the middle as Hugo knocked it down but could not prevent McCleney from scoring as the Tide pulled ahead, 2-1. In the top of the seventh, Hugo drew a leadoff walk, stole second and was sacrificed to third as the potential tying run was now just 60 feet away with two outs in the inning.
Paige Wilson fouled off back-to-back pitches with a two-strike count but reached out of the zone to go down swinging for the final out as Alabama hung on to win, 2-1.