UA-Tennessee game blog: Wildcats win again, advance to championship seriesby Anthony Gimino on Jun. 06, 2010, under Sports
The top of the seventh …
First batter: A line out to center field.
Second batter: A bounce out to shortstop on a close play at first
A single to center.
And then …
Kenzie Fowler strikes out Jessica Signer on a pitch in the dirt.
It’s over. Arizona wins 5-2, beating the Vols twice on Sunday and advancing to the best-of-three championship series that starts Monday (5 p.m. Tucson time, ESPN2).
As a side note, if you’re a Tennessee fan, how much do you hate Arizona?
The Wildcats shocked the Vols in the 2007 championship series, winning the final two games after dropping the opener as indefatigable Taryne Morwatt out-dueled UT ace Monica Abbott.
And now this — as, just like in 2007, Arizona wins a pair of elimination games from Tennessee.
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Arizona has some margin of error. Senior shortstop K’Lee Arredondo hit a two-run homer down the right-field line in the bottom of the sixth to give the Wildcats a 5-2 lead.
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Three more outs to go for Arizona. With a runner on third base, UA’s Kenzie Fowler gets her seventh strikeout to end the top of the sixth inning. The Wildcats lead Tennessee 3-2.
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Now, it’s about pitching and defense. Arizona took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. K’Lee Arredondo singled sharply to lead off the inning, and then coach Mike Candrea had clean-up hitter Stacie Chambers — who homered in her previous at-bat — to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
Not only did Chambers execute the bunt and move Arredondo to second, the strategy worked as the next hitter, Brigette Del Ponte, hit an RBI single to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game.
Arizona is up 3-2 going to the sixth inning.
* * *
Arizona hits its first home run of the Women’s College Series, and it’s a two-run shot from Stacie Chambers that ties the game at 2 in the bottom third inning. That’s the good news. The bad news is that UA has left runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings.
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The Vols push across another to run to make it 2-0 in the top of the third inning. With Lauren Gibson on first, Tiffany Huff hit a bloop into shallow right field. UA’s Karissa Buchanan dived, but the ball bounced into her glove and then it flew out as she rolled on the ground. Gibson was able to scoot all the way from first, scoring by sliding around the tag of catcher Stacie Chambers.
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Arizona has another good scoring chance in the bottom of the second but ends up squandering Lini Koria’s leadoff walk. The next two batters failed to move her along before Karissa Buchanan singled up the middle. With two outs, the hot-hitting (and fielding) Brittany Lastrapes struck out. Tennessee still leads 1-0 … but I get the sense this is going to be a like a 4-3 game.
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Amazing catch by Arizona left fielder Brittany Lastrapes in the top of the second. She saves a run (at least) by running down a ball in the left-center field, then firing to second base to double off the runner, who had no idea that Lastrapes could/would make the catch.
The next batter followed with a double, too, so the damage could easily have been more than the one run that would have scored on the play.
After the second double, Kenzie Fowler walked the next batter before getting a strikeout to end the inning.
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Arizona’s momentum from an earlier 8-0 victory over Tennessee on Sunday won’t carry over to the team’s second meeting of the day.
The Vols score in the top of the first. They loaded the bases on a single, a hit by pitch and a walk. Arizona pitcher Kenzie Fowler then walked Lauren Gibson on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run, Fowler struck out Tiffany Huff to prevent further harm.
Arizona had its chances in the bottom of the first against Ivy Renfroe. Lead-off hitter Brittany Lastrapes doubled to the wall in right field and went to third on Lauren Schutzler’s bunt single. But K’Lee Arredondo bounced out to Renfroe, and then Stacie Chambers and Brigette Del Ponte — when is ESPN going to correct the graphic that says “De Ponte”? — struck out.
The winner of the Arizona-Tennessee game will play UCLA in the first game of a best-of-three championship series beginning Monday at 5 p.m. Tucson time.