7th inning homer propels UT softball past Georgia, rubber match Sunday

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The No. 8 Lady Vols used a Haley Bearden bomb in the seventh inning to edge No. 16/22 Georgia, 7-6, in Game 2 on Saturday, setting up a series-deciding rubber match on Sunday.

Bearden led Tennessee with a 3-for-4, two-home run effort at the plate. Three other Lady Vols notched two hits in the game while Bearden and Chelsea Seggern each drove in three runs.

Caylan Arnold tossed 3.0 innings to start the game and returned in the seventh to record her first save of the season. She allowed one unearned run on two hits and struck out one batter. Ashley Rogers entered in the fourth inning and tossed 3.0 frames, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits while striking out five batters to earn her 17th victory of the year.

Tennessee got on the board early thanks to a Bearden homer in the top of the first. She knocked the solo shot over the right-center field wall on the first pitch of the at-bat to give UT a 1-0 lead.

In the third inning, the Orange and White's first four batters got on base and scored. Aubrey Leach and Kaitlin Parsons reached on back-to-back one-baggers before Bearden hit an RBI single, scratching a run across. In the next at-bat, Seggern launched a three-run homer over the evergreens in right field, putting Tennessee ahead, 5-0.

The Bulldogs responded in the bottom of the frame with a run of their own. Tyler Armistead reached on an error by Arnold and then scored on a sacrifice fly to right field.

UT extended its lead to 6-1 in the fourth inning with two outs. Leach singled to right field and moved to second on Parsons' second hit of the game. An error by UGA's second baseman then allowed the Texas native to score.

Trimming the Lady Vols' advantage, 6-3, Georgia plated two runs on Mahlena O'Neal's homer after a walk put a runner on first in the bottom of the fourth.

UGA added two more runs to the board in the fifth, using two singles and a fielding error by Tennessee to make it a 6-5 game.

In the sixth stanza, the Bulldogs tied the contest up at 6-6 on a solo home run by Armistead before a strikeout ended the frame.

With the game tied in the seventh, Tennessee re-entered Bearden after Treasuary Poindexter had entered the game in the fifth inning to play right field. In the lead off spot, Bearden sailed the first pitch she saw over the evergreens down the right-field line to push the Lady Vols ahead, 7-6.

To close the game, Arnold took over in the circle. The first two batters reached on back-to-back singles and a groundout to first moved runners to second and third. Tennessee then intentionally walked UGA's Savana Sikes, bringing O'Neal to the plate with the bases loaded. The Bulldog catcher lined a pitch to Osbron at shortstop who then fired to Ashley Morgan at first to catch the runner off the bag, sealing UT's 7-6 win.

ON DECK: Tennessee squares up with Georgia for a Sunday rubber match starting at 2 p.m. EST. The game will be aired on ESPN2 and a live radio broadcast will be available on AM 990/FM 99.1, UTSports.com and the UT Gameday App.