Five run first propels #3 Lady Vols past South Carolina, 5-4

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- No. 3 Tennessee scored five runs in the first inning and withstood a late South Carolina rally en route to a 5-4, series-clinching win over the Gamecocks on Saturday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

The Lady Vols (27-3, 4-1 SEC) scored five in the first while the Gamecocks (17-11, 2-6) plated one in the second inning, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Madison Shipman was a perfect 3-for-3 in the win. Cheyanne Tarango had a two-RBI single and Melissa Davin finished 2-for-4 at the plate with one double, one RBI and one run.

Tarango made her first career SEC start in the circle and threw two innings and allowed one run. Erin Gabriel (5-0) tossed three relief frames to earn the win and recorded one strikeout and one run allowed. Rainey Gaffin got one out in the sixth and Ellen Renfroe threw the last 1.2 frames with two strikeouts and two solo home runs given up.

Julie Sarratt (7-6) took the loss for South Carolina after issuing five earned runs over six innings.

Tennessee struck first in the bottom of the first inning when Davin drove in Megan Geer from second base with an RBI double down the left field line. Shipman and Annie Aldrete drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for Hannah Akamine. Akamine was hit by a pitch on a full count, plating Davin from third base. Two batters later, with two outs and the bases loaded, Tarango knocked a two-RBI single to right field and Taylor Koenig scored from third base on an errant throw from first to give UT a 5-0 lead.

South Carolina got on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the second. With runners on second and third and two outs, Julie Sarratt hit an RBI single through the left side to plate Brooke Barnhill and draw the Gamecocks to within 5-1.

The Gamecocks added two more runs in the top of the seventh when Alaynie Page hit a leadoff home run over the scoreboard in left field and Ashlyn Masters hit a two-out solo homer to left. With SC within 5-4, Renfroe induced a groundout to third base by Lauren Masters to end the game.

Tennessee will close out its season series against South Carolina with a 2:30 p.m. ET game on Sunday. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Joe Davis and Michele Smith on the broadcast. The game will also feature a live audio broadcast on WNML 990 AM and with Brian Rice on the call.

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