KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (School release) -- An impressive seven-run first inning and two blasts from Madison Shipman helped No. 4 Tennessee take down Tennessee Tech, 13-5, in five innings on Tuesday night at Lee Stadium.
Annie Aldrete knocked a walk-off RBI hit through the left side with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth to give UT (33-5) the victory by run rule.
Tennessee crushed the Golden Eagles (12-31) with a big night offensively, posting 12 hits on the evening. The win gives the Big Orange an 18-0 edge in the all-time series.
Tennessee has won its last 80 games against in-state rivals and Ralph Weekly and Karen Weekly have led UT to a perfect 75-0 record against in-state opponents. The Lady Vols are 109-3 all-time against teams from the state of Tennessee.
The Lady Vols posted seven runs in the first, one in the second and five in the fifth. Tennessee Tech scored two in the first and three in the third.
Shipman lead the team offensively, going 2-for-3 with two home runs and four RBIs. Aldrete also hit well, going 3-3 with a double and three RBIs. Cheyanne Tarango and Melissa Davin each hit two-run homers.
Tarango (2-1) earned the win, allowing three runs over two relief innings. Starter Erin Gabriel struck out two and allowed two runs over two innings. Rainey Gaffin pitched the final inning, striking out one and allowing no runs or hits. Tennessee Tech starter Danielle Liberatore (6-10) took the loss after giving up five runs and four hits over zero innings.
Tennessee Tech wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. With leadoff batter Angi Sakamoto on base after a double to right center, Kendall Hooper smashed a two-run home run to center field. The home run marked her fourth of the season.
The Lady Vols countered with seven runs of their own in the bottom half of the first. After a Gaffin single and a Megan Geer walk, Shipman sent a three-run bomb to left field and helped UT take the lead, 3-2. Aldrete ripped a single to left center, and Davin followed with a blast to left field to extend the UT lead to 5-2. The home run was Davin's ninth on the year, a new personal best. Tarango smacked a two-run home run--the third home run of the inning--to center field, scoring Taylor Koenig on the blast. Tarango's homer made the score 7-2.
Tennessee's three home runs in the first inning are the most in a single inning since April 2, 2013, when the Lady Vols knocked three homers as part of a 15-run inning against Tennessee State.
Tennessee added to its lead in the second inning with a Shipman solo home run--her second bomb of the game-- to stretch the lead to 8-2. The home run, her 11th of the year, tied her single season home run record. Tennessee's four home runs were also its most in a single game since hitting four against Tennessee State on April 2, 2013.
The Golden Eagles cut the lead to 8-5 after plating three runs in the top of the third. Kendall Hooper crushed a two-run home run following a Sakamoto rip up the middle. After a Chelsea Burgess double, Cortney Fry knocked her home with a single down the left field line.
The Lady Vols struck again in the bottom of the fifth. Koenig smoked a standup double down the left field line followed by a Shaliyah Geathers RBI-triple to left center scoring pinch runner Hannah Devotie. Gaffin's single through the left side scored Geathers to extend the Lady Vol lead to 10-5. After the Big Orange loaded the bases, Aldrete's hit, combined with a left field error, scored three runs and ended the game, 13-5.
No. 4 Tennessee will head to College Station, Texas, for a three-game series with No. 21 Texas A&M. Friday's game will begin at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.