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No. 3 Tennessee steals victory from MT, 9-8

Nina Dever accounts for five RBI

March 18, 2014 · @MTAthletics

COLUMBIA, Tenn. - Nina Dever laced a double in the top of the seventh inning to give Middle Tennessee (6-23) the 8-7 lead over No. 3 Tennessee (25-3), before the Lady Vols recaptured the lead for the 9-8 victory at Ridley Park in the inaugural Mid-State Classic.

Dever led the Blue Raiders with five RBI, tying her single game career-high set against Murray State Feb. 13, 2013. Laura Dukes finished 1-for-1 at the plate with three walks and a two-run home run in the fourth for Middle Tennessee's first runs and hit of the game. Samantha Nieves tallied her lone hit of the night in the seventh inning to start MT's comeback.

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With No. 3 Tennessee holding a 7-5 lead and Middle Tennessee down to three outs in the seventh, the Blue Raiders put together a three-run effort against one of the best pitchers in the country, Ellen Renfroe (16-0). Renfroe pitched a complete game, allowing eight earned runs with six walks and seven strikeouts.

After an opening strikeout, McKena Miller earned the free pass to first and then LaRi Mitchell hit a single through the left side, giving MT runners on first and second. Nieves tallied the Blue Raiders' first run on a single through the right side of a crept in infield. Another strikeout brought Laura Dukes to the plate, who received the intentional walk to fill the bases for Middle Tennessee. Dever came to the dish against the SEC's top pitcher and hit a double to left field, which scored Mitchell and Nieves for the go ahead 8-7 lead.

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Now the Blue Raiders only needed three outs to capture their first victory against Tennessee since 2000. UT's Annie Aldrete started the Tennessee offense with a solo home run to center field, tying the game at 8-all. A MT error and back-to-back singles loaded the bases for the Lady Vols. Rainey Gaffin came to the dish and hit the walk-off single through the left side to give Tennessee the 9-8 victory.

Caitlin McClure started the contest and pitched the first three innings, while giving up four earned runs and striking out two. Jordyn Fisherback (3-8) tossed the remaining 3.1 innings and surrendered the final five runs with three earned.

Middle Tennessee continues play with a three-game series against Conference USA foe LA Tech Saturday and Sunday, with a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Saturday and a single contest Sunday at noon.

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