No. 23 Auburn Splits Twinbill With No. 12 Tennessee
April 9, 2004
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Auburn and Tennessee each hurled three-hitters with the Vols picking up a 3-0 game one victory before a 6-1 Tiger victory as the two top 25 teams split a twinbill at Tyson Park in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday night.
The Tigers, ranked 23rd, are now 30-9 on the season and 11-6 in Southeastern Conference play. The 12th-ranked Lady Vols moved to 40-10 and 13-6 in the league.
“It was good to see the players bounce back in game two,” said head coach Tina Deese. “They left it all on the field in both games. We struggled a little in the first game, but we found our groove at the plate in the second.”
Kristen Keyes gave up just three hits, including a seventh-inning home run to Amber Rhinehart, in the second game to earn the win for Auburn. She struck out seven and walked one to move to 16-7 on the year. It is the fifth time in six tries that Keyes has won her first start in a series.
“Kristen was on fire tonight. Her rise ball was effective all night and she has been very successful against lefthanders this year, which Tennessee has a number of.”
The Tiger offense came alive in the game to pound out 13 hits, seven for extra bases, en route to its six runs. It was the most hits allowed this year by Tennessee. Four Auburn players had multi-hit games led by Sara Ghezzi’s (Miami, Fla.) three hits.
Ghezzi got started when she sailed Stacey Jennings 0-1 offering over the right field wall for her first career home run to lead off the second inning and give Auburn a 2-0 lead.
“That was the first time I have ever hit a home run over the fence,” said Ghezzi. “I am usually a line-drive hitter, so all I had ever hit was inside-the-park home runs. I wasn’t trying to hit the ball to hard. I just wanted to keep my head down and make the bat meet the ball.”
Sara Dean (Valencia, Calif.) and Martha Phillips (Montgomery, Ala.) had laced back-to-back two-out doubles for a 1-0 lead in the first.
In the fourth, Lauren Walton (Palmetto, Fla.) reached on a bunt single and scored on Ashley Griffin’s (Pace, Fla.) triple to right center. Shannon Anderson (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) singled home Griffin and scored on a Dean single. Anderson and Dean executed a double steal only to be stranded on second and third as Phillips was rung up looking and Kristina McCain (Gardendale, Ala.) grounded out to short.
Auburn posted two more runs in the seventh behind a McCain single and then a pair of doubles by Ghezzi and Lolani Alvarez (Cypress, Calif.).
Anderson, who set the school single-season record with her 22nd steal in the first game, swiped two in the second to bring her total to 24.
“We are our most dangerous with Shannon on base because of the pressure she puts on a defense,” Deese said. “They know she is going to try to steal, but it’s still tough to get her. She gets incredible jumps and gets is able to get herself into scoring position. That allows the meat of our lineup to do what they do best, which is drive in runs.”
In game one, Monica Abbott worked all seven innings for Tennessee to pick up her SEC-leading 33rd win of the year. She gave up three hits while striking out 13 and walking none.
Beth DiPietro (Riverview, Fla.) took the loss, her first of the year, despite allowing just four hits. She fell to 5-1 after allowing three runs – two earned – while striking out two and walking four.
“For a freshman to pitch the way she did against the No. 12 in the country, when facing a pitcher like Abbott, is incredible. She mixed her pitches well and kept them off balance. The defense behind her was outstanding. We made some great plays, especially early, to keep us in the game.”
Lauren Mattox led off the second with a single and scored on an Angela Brewer single with two outs to give Tennessee a 1-0 lead.
In the sixth, Auburn had its best chance to get even. Anderson reached on a bunt when the second baseman Mandie Fishback dropped the throw to first. After Dean struck out for the first time in 69 at-bats, Anderson stole second. However, Holly Currie (Pisgah, Ala.) was rung up for the third time of the game to end the inning.
The Lady Vols broke the game open in the sixth when DiPietro walked the bases loaded with two outs and gave up a single to Stacey Jennings. The hit plated India Chiles, who pinch ran for Kristi Durant. Mattox came home on the play as Ghezzi misplayed the ball in right field.
Mattox had two of the Tennessee’s hits, both singles, and she reached base three times. McCain had two of Auburn’s three hits in the game.
Auburn and Tennessee will wrap up the series on Saturday with a contest beginning at Noon CDT. The game can be heard in the Auburn area on WELL 88.7-FM and online at www.AuburnTigers.com.