By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – For the first four innings on Sunday, it looked like Tennessee Tech's offensive slump was continuing as Chattanooga pitcher Allison Swinford yielded three hits – including a solo home run to Sydney Love-Baker – and not much else to the Golden Eagle batters.
That all changed in the fifth inning as the Golden Eagles (6-4) struck for six runs in the frame to move atop the Mocs and take a 7-5 victory to close out the Chattanooga Challenge on Sunday.
Love-Baker, who ended the game with a 1-for-3 performance with the home run, drove in two runs and scored two runs in the contest. Haeli Bryson also drove in two runs for the Golden Eagles.
Alyssa Arden (4-1) picked up her fourth victory of the season, allowing five runs on eight hits as she went the distance. She walked four and struck out five along the way.
Her counterpart in the circle, Swinford, lasted four completed frames and was pulled after loading the bases with no one out in the fifth. She ended the game allowing five runs on five hits, walking two and striking out one. Her relief, Celie Hudson, worked the final three innings, allowing two runs on four hits, walking one and striking out three.
Chattanooga took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Aly Walker doubled to left center to drive in two runs. Tech cut the deficit in half in the top of the third as Love-Baker hit her third home run of the season with a drive to left. The Mocs got that run back in the bottom half of the inning as Katie Corum had an RBI single.
Things came together for Tech and fell apart for Chattanooga in the fifth. Nicolle Nysted led off with a double to right center, then Paxton Grimes took a walk on five pitches. Chandler Caldwell put down a bunt, but UTC was unable to get anyone out on the infield single. Love-Baker, with the bases loaded, earned an RBi as she was also walked on five pitches for Tech's seventh bases-loaded walk of the season.
As Nysted came home to score, Chattanooga pulled the trigger and switched to Hudson. On the first pitch, Jessie Lowery hit a single into center field to plate Grimes. Bryson followed up with a two-run double to left center, scoring Caldwell and Love-Baker. Lowery attempted to score, but was called out at the plate.
Raleigh Lewis joined the hit parade, dropping a single into center to score Bryson, then head coach Michelle DePolo put Hannah Richter to pinch run for Lewis. An Alexis Trimiar grounder to third allowed Richter to advance to second, then the pinch runner came home to score as Beth McCulley singled past second base and advanced on the throw home.
By the time the inning came to a close, Tech led 7-3 with six runs on six hits and one left on.
Chattanooga had a furious effort to try to retake the lead, starting with two runs in the fifth as Emma Sturdivant hit a two-run round-tripper to make it 7-5.
In the sixth, the Mocs loaded the bases with two down and Walker lined a shot that ended up within reach of Trimiar's glove, who rushed to touch up the bag at first to end the scoring threat and the inning.
The Mocs saw their seventh and final chance come to a close quickly as Arden coaxed three outs on six pitches on a grounder to Love-Baker, a flyout to Lowery and a foul out to Grimes.
The Golden Eagles return to action on Friday as they travel to Spartanburg, S.C., for the Wings Etc. Classic, hosted by USC Upstate. Tech takes on Virginia first, scheduled for a Noon Central start on Friday.