Hill and Gearlds Spark Tigers Over New Mexico, 6-4
TUCSON, Ariz. – The Tigers earned a win as they concluded play at the Hillenbrand Invitational on Sunday morning. Tennessee State (3-7) used a run in the fifth and two runs in each of the final two innings to claim a 6-4 win over New Mexico (1-7) in front of 2,471 fans.
Carmen Hill gave a spark to the Tigers lineup from the nine-hole and was instrumental in the win over New Mexico. Hill finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a run driven in. With the Lobos leading 2-1, the transfer led off the fifth inning with a hard shot to third. Hill reached as the ball shot away towards left center. Jayna Hanawahine grounded out to first to push Hill to second, who then moved to third on a bunt hit by Courtney Gearlds. Hill scored from third to tie the game at 2-2, as she was able to break for home as a throw would get away from the fielders as Gearlds stole second.
A frame later, Hill started a two-out rally in the top of the sixth with a single down the right field line. After a Hanawahine walk, Gearlds hit a slow roller that received help from an unexpected hope to shoot over the fielder’s glove into right center allowing both runners to move up two bases, as well as a 3-2 lead. The Tigers would extend the lead to two runs as Gearlds held up between bases to give Hanawahine time to score from third on a double-steal.
The Lobos would bounce back in the bottom of the inning by taking advantage of a Tiger mishap. Naomi Tellez used the extra at bat for UNM in the sixth with a two-run bomb to left field to tie the game at 4-4.
TSU continued the pressure on the Lobos in the top of the seventh inning as Kate Morris earned her second walk of the game and was followed by the second hit of the game by Lindsey Burgess. Two batters later, Tayler Shimizu hit a ground ball too short for a potential double play. Morris was able to avoid the tag and Burgess slid into second in time to cause a bobble, giving the Tigers bases loaded for Kiarra Freeman. The sophomore fell behind in the count 0-2 and battled her way back for a walk six pitches later, giving the Tigers a 5-4 lead as Morris crossed home plate.
Hill stepped to the plate and made her presence felt again as she delivered a ball into center on a line drive, pushing Burgess home for a 6-4 lead.
Starter Shea Morris would make the score hold up as she retired the Lobos in the bottom half of the last inning. Morris improved to 3-3 allowing four runs, two earned, and six hits while striking out six.
Shimizu finished 1-for-4 on the day as she collected a leadoff single in the second inning. Shimizu would eventually score in the inning on a passed ball that gave TSU an early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers completed their trip through Arizona 2-4. Gearlds led Tennessee State over six games with a .467 average. Hanawahine hit the lone home run on the week and scored five runs. Kate Morris finished with three doubles and five RBI.
Tennessee State returns home to host the Tiger Classic Feb. 21-23. All games can be heard on tsutigers.com.