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Vols rally for huge comeback over USC Upstate

1376 days ago
Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee rallied for an unbelievable comeback win, scoring seven runs with two outs in the seventh inning to defeat USC Upstate, 7-3, in Saturday's NCAA Regional at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

The Spartans' pitching duo of Lexi Shubert and Holly McKinnon held the Volunteers without a hit for 6.2 innings before Haley Bearden broke up the no-hitter with a clutch, pinch-hit single to drive in Megan Geer and Scarlet McSwain, who both reached on walks earlier in the inning. The hit cut the Upstate lead to 3-2 before Aubrey Leach launched a three-run homer to center field to send the crowd into a frenzy and give UT its first lead of the afternoon. It was just the second career home run for the sophomore leadoff hitter, who is primarily a slapper.

The Vols (46-10) continued to pour it on with a Meghan Gregg two-run blast into the outfield bleachers to extend the lead to 7-3. The homer was Gregg's 13th of the year, tying a career high, and also increased her RBI total to 75, putting her in sole possession of third place on Tennessee's single-season RBI list.

Freshman pitcher Caylan Arnold was solid in her NCAA Tournament debut, allowing just one earned run and three hits in six innings of work. The Maryville, Tenn., native improved to 20-8 on the year with the win and defeated a ranked opponent for the ninth time this season in the process.

UT found themselves in an early hole after committing two errors and giving up a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Vols came out on the wrong side of a play at the plate after Upstate's Ansley Gilstrap was ruled safe at home after being caught in a rundown. Replay showed that she never touched the plate but the call was upheld. Ryan Rector drove in another run with a sacrifice fly to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead after one inning of play.

Following the rocky start, Arnold settled in to retire the next 14 batters she faced before allowing two hits and a run in the run in the bottom of the sixth.

Shubert carried a perfect game into the sixth inning before walking the bases loaded with one out. McKinnon came on in relief to strike out pinch hitter Taylor Rowland and get Gregg to ground out to keep the no-hitter intact and end the threat.

Megan Obier led the USC Upstate (45-12) attack with a hit, a run and an RBI while Rector also drove in a run for the Spartans in the loss. Upstate will take on the winner of today's second game between Ohio State and Longwood in an elimination game later this evening at 5 p.m.

UP NEXT: Tennessee advances to tomorrow's regional final and will face the winner of tonight's elimination game at noon on Sunday. The Vols need just one win to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals next week.

ONE FOR THE AGES: Tennessee entered the seventh inning of Saturday's incredible comeback win with no hits and a three-run deficit. It was the Vols' first victory this season when trailing entering the seventh inning (previously 0-7). The Big Orange recorded all four of their hits and all seven runs with two outs in the inning. UT had just three runners reach base entering the seventh, all via walks in the sixth inning.