STATESBORO, Ga. – The Chattanooga Mocs played its longest game in program history Sunday afternoon in Statesboro, Ga. – a 13 inning brawl with Georgia Southern in hopes of keeping its regular season championship hopes alive against the Eagles.
Despite an outstanding 12.2 inning performance from starting pitcher Katie Henderson (Hixson, Tenn.), the Eagles proved to be too much to handle as the Mocs fell 6-5 in the bottom of the 13th go-around.
Nearly unhittable through Sunday’s contest, Henderson (14-10) allowed just six hits and struck out 10 batters. The sophomore’s 51 batters faced sets a new single-pitcher record and 12.2 innings of work is a new individual pitching performance for the program. Mocs pitching faced 43 total batters to set a new team record.
Likewise, Eagles’ starter Sarah Purvis (18-10) logged 13 innings and claimed the win. The reigning SoCon Pitcher of the Year gave up seven hits and was charged with just one earned run on the day.
Chattanooga got out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning as Purvis had some difficulty finding the strike zone. On two outs and walks issued to both Sarah Beth Roberts (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) and Anyssa Robles (Lawrenceville, Ga.), Criket Blanco (Maryville, Tenn.) popped a two-strike dropball to center. The blooper fell between Eagles’ centerfielder Breanna McLendon and second baseman Lexi Allen, allowing Roberts to motor around and score from second.
The Eagles evened the score in the fifth inning on a one-out homer to left. With no one on, McLendon jacked a solo-shot off Henderson to tie the game going into the sixth inning. The run ended up taking the contest into extra innings.
Chattanooga regained the lead in the eighth in a wild top half of the frame. Stephanie Rieck (Chandler, Ariz.) singled on a bunt to third and was pinch-ran for by Tyler Templet (Woodstock, Ga.). With a runner at first, Sam Taylor (Chickamauga, Ga.) reached on a throwing error to place runners on the corners. Two on and one out, Robles walked, but the fourth ball of the at-bat was a wild pitch that allowed Templet to slide home safely from third.
The game was tied again the bottom of the inning as Georgia Southern’s McLendon doubled to lead off the inning. Taylor Rogers followed up with a single to left to tie the game 2-2.
With the international tie-breaker on in the 10th, the Mocs capitalized by scoring Jesslyn Stockard (Ringgold, Ga.) from second on a Roberts RBI double to left. Despite the lead, the back-and-forth continued into the bottom of the inning as the Eagles were able to score a third run on a hard single to short.
Another strike came in the top of the 11th as a couple of timely bunts gave the Mocs a 4-3 lead. With Alyssa Taylor (Orange, Calif.) placed at second as the tie-breaker and Robles at first on a walk, a sacrifice bunt from Nicole Osterman (Kissimmee, Fla.) moved both runners into scoring position. Blanco gave Chattanooga the lead with a fielder’s choice bunted back to the pitcher. Taylor slid home safely as the catcher was not able to handle the flip from Purvis, giving Blanco her second RBI of the game.
Georgia Southern kept the trend going in the 11th, as well, with a fielder’s choice RBI scoring tie-breaker runner Kaitlyn Johnson from third. The 4-4 tie sent the game into the 12th inning.
The Eagles eventually won with a two-run double in the bottom of the 13th inning, after holding the Mocs to one run in the top half of the inning. The loss mathematically eliminates Chattanooga from winning the regular season crown and the first seed in the SoCon Tournament in May.
The Mocs return to Chattanooga next weekend to wrap up the regular season against Western Carolina. The final home series of the year also serves as senior weekend for UTC’s four seniors; Kaiti Dutton (Tulsa, Okla.), Hannah Thurley (Nashville, Tenn.), Rieck and Templet.