COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Haley Bearden ignited the Tennessee offense as the ninth-ranked Volunteers evened their series with No. 6 Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon with a 8-4 win at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Bearden had the best game of her young career with a pair of hits and a career-high three RBIs. She was one of eight Vols to record a hit and one of five to drive in a run on the afternoon. Aubrey Leach led UT with three hits, a run and an RBI while Megan Geer and Jenna Holcomb also had multiple hits.
The Aggies (42-8, 16-6 SEC) jumped out to another early lead with a solo home run from Tori Vidales in the bottom of the first. Texas A&M added to its lead in the second with a two-out RBI double off the bat of Erica Russell to make it 2-0.
UT (43-9, 15-7 SEC) had a great chance to tie the game in the top of the third after a pair of singles from Leach and Brooke Vines, but Samantha Show struck out Scarlet McSwain to end the threat. The Vols stranded runners on base in each of the first four innings and left runners in scoring position in three straight frames.
The Big Orange were finally able to break through in the top of the fifth, plating five runs, all with two outs. Bearden brought home a pair with a sharply-hit single to left field before Katie Weimer singled in two more runs to put the Volunteers ahead for the first time in the series. Leach capped the scoring with a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-2. Before the two hits from Bearden and Weimer, UT was 0-for-7 in the game with runners in scoring position.
Bearden came through with another clutch hit to extend Tennessee's lead in the sixth. The sophomore singled to right field to score Meghan Gregg from third and give the Vols' a four-run cushion.
The Aggies battled back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Vols' lead to 6-4 heading into the seventh inning. Russell singled in her second run of the game before Vidales drew a bases-loaded walk for her second RBI of the day to cut the deficit to two.
Tennessee regained its four-run lead with a two-out rally in the seventh. Leach started the rally with a bunt single before Geer singled and Gregg reached on a walk to load the bases. Vines drew another walk to bring in Leach before Holcomb singled to make it 8-4 Volunteers.
Matty Moss shut the door in the bottom of the seventh, setting the Aggies down in order to end the game. Moss threw 6.2 innings and struck out eight batters to improve to 22-2 on the year.
UP NEXT: The Vols go for the series win tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET. A win would move UT into either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed for the SEC Tournament next week. Fans can watch live online on SEC Network +/WatchESPN.
BEARDEN'S COMING OUT PARTY: Tennessee sophomore Haley Bearden had a breakout performance on Saturday afternoon, setting career highs with two hits and three RBIs. The Clarksville, Tenn., native is on a three-game hit streak for the Vols.
BATS COME ALIVE: After struggling to score in Friday's series opener, the Vols' bats came alive in Saturday's win. Tennessee recorded double-digit hits for the 17th time this season, finishing with 13 for the game. The Big Orange scored all eight of their runs in the fifth inning or later and seven of the eight game with two outs.