Tennessee defeats Auburn in 10
Tigers' Lathan ejected in third for running into catcher
AUBURN, Ala. -- In a contest full of collisions and hit batters on Saturday, No. 9 Tennessee (30-9, 12-6 Southeastern Conference) got four RBIs from Madison Shipman and stellar relief work from Ellen Renfroe to outlast Auburn (26-14, 5-10 SEC) in a 10-inning marathon, 5-3.
The match-up was marred by a massive collision at home plate during the bottom of the third inning as Auburn’s Brooke Lathan ran into catcher Ashley Andrews, forcing a lengthy injury delay for the UT player and the ejection of the Tiger second baseman.
Shipman led the Lady Vol offense by going 2-for-5 at the dish with two runs scored, a triple, her sixth home run of the season and four RBIs, giving her a team-best 45 RBIs. She is hitting .375 for the series with a triple, two doubles and eight RBIs in two games.
Lauren Gibson was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs and a stolen base, Kat Dotson was 1-for-5 and Raven Chavanne was 1-for-4 with her team-leading 18th stolen base on the season.
Ellen Renfroe picked up her 21st victory of the season in relief, allowing just one hit with a walk and nine strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work. Ivy Renfroe gave up three runs on four hits while striking out three in 4.0 frames as the starter.
Tennessee’s offense managed its initial hit of the contest in the top of the first as Gibson laced a two-out single through the infield. Shipman then crushed a two-run shot, her sixth home run of the season and second of the series, just over the wall as the Big Orange nabbed a quick 2-0 lead. All 11 of UT’s runs in the series to that point had come with two outs.
Auburn’s Lauren Guzman got the Tigers off to a promising start in the bottom of the first with a lead-off single just through the middle of the infield. Ivy Renfroe wasn’t fazed by the opening hit, rebounding immediately to strikeout Elizabeth Eisterhold. A sacrifice bunt by Hilary Mavromat advanced the AU runner into scoring position, but she remained at second as Ivy Renfroe struck out Lathan to conclude the inning.
After the Lady Vols left a base runner stranded at third in the top of the second, Auburn’s offense got off to a promising start in the bottom half as Amber Harrison laced the first offering she received from Ivy Renfroe through the left side of the infield. With a 2-0 count on Caitlin Jordan, Harrison swiped second to reach scoring position and was soon joined by Jordan via a hit by pitch.
Following a sac bunt that advanced both runners, Baylee Stephens grounded a ball to Gibson at second. She fired a strike to the plate as Andrews applied the tag for a big out. Branndi Melero was then hit by a pitch, setting the stage for a RBI single through the right side by Guzman as Auburn cut its deficit to 2-1. Eisterhold then followed by ripping a full count pitch to center, plating two more Tigers as AU nabbed its first lead of the series at 3-2.
The Lady Vols threatened again in the top of the third as Chavanne got things started with an infield single, successfully reaching base for the 19th consecutive contest. After an Andrews fielder’s choice cut down the lead runner, Gibson drew her team-leading 32nd walk of the season, placing a pair on the bags with Shipman stepping to the plate.
She went after the initial offering from Lauren Schmalz, lining a shot that was caught by Caitlin Jordan. The AU first baseman turned and dove to tag the base as Gibson was retired via an inning-ending double play.
Things took an ugly turn in the bottom of the third with one out and Tiger runners at the corners. What appeared to be a missed squeeze bunt resulted in a massive collision at the plate as Lathan collided with Andrews. The play resulted in an Auburn ejection and an extended delay as UT’s catcher was taken off the field for precautionary examination.
With two down and attempting to re-focus, Ivy Renfroe hit Schultze with a pitch but finally ended the lengthy frame with a strikeout of Stephens as AU left two base runners stranded.
A throwing error by Tiger starter Schmalz on a bunt back to the circle off the bat of Tory Lewis got Tennessee in business in the top of the fifth. On the bad toss to first, she quickly raced all the way around to third with no outs. Chavanne walked and Hannah Akamine was struck by a pitch from new AU pitcher Angel Bunner, loading the bases. With one down, Shipman came through again, lacing a RBI groundout as Lewis trotted home to tie the contest at 3-3.
A two-out single from Gibson and a stolen base in the top of the seventh granted the Big Orange a runner in scoring position with the score still tied. Shipman stepped to the plate and hit a ball right on the nose, but her liner traveled right into the glove of Bunner in the circle to leave the runner at second.
With one last chance in regulation, Ellen Renfroe induced a popped-up bunt from Melero and a grounder to third by Guzman for two quick outs. She battled out of a 3-0 hole to a full count against Eisterhold before the AU catcher blasted a shot to deep right. Dotson retreated all the way back to the fence, making the catch while falling backwards into the padding to send the teams on to extra frames.
Each team’s offense managed to get a runner into scoring position in the eighth inning, but no farther as both Tennessee’s Ellen Renfroe and Auburn’s Bunner buckled down to leave the runners stranded.
The Big Orange finally moved back in front in the top of the 10th with the help of the middle of the Lady Vol line-up. Gibson was hit by a pitch for the third time in a five-game stretch opening the inning. Shipman delivered in the clutch once again, blasting a triple off the wall to score Gibson all the way from first to make it 4-3. An illegal pitch by Bunner then brought home Shipman from third as Tennessee’s advantage expanded to a pair of runs.
With a two-run lead in the bottom of the 10th, Ellen Renfroe didn’t allow the Tigers any life. She struck out Eisterhold, got Mavromat to pop-up to third and struck out Liana Wuchte swinging to end the marathon.