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March 14, 2015

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (20-8, 2-3 SEC) won a dramatic 7-6 contest in nine innings over No. 9/15 Tennessee (18-5, 0-2 SEC), with sophomore first baseman Kaylea Snaer ending things with a walk-off single.

With two aboard, Snaer flared one into center, allowing senior centerfielder Kristen Struett to score from second and send the Gamecocks home a series winner. Junior third baseman Jordan Bizzell started the inning with a single, and Struett replaced her at first after a fielder’s choice. Sophomore offensive player Victoria Williams drew a walk to put Struett in scoring position for Snaer’s heroics.

Snaer helped the Gamecocks keep the game tied an inning earlier. After a leadoff infield single for Lady Vol pitcher Rainey Gaffin, Snaer snagged the hot liner to her and tagged first before the runner, recording the first two outs of the ninth.

Tennessee jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first after Taylor Koenig’s single and Gretchen Aucoin’s three-run homer. The Gamecocks clawed back to within a run in their first turn to hit, with junior left fielder Page scoring the first run on an error after Struett’s single. Williams brought home Struett with a single, and redshirt sophomore second baseman Lauren Masters scored junior pinch runner Ansley Ard with a two-out double.

South Carolina claimed its first lead in the second on Bizzell’s two-run double, which pushed home Page and freshman right fielder Tiara Duffy. Duffy had a one-out double to start the rally. Tennessee tied it in the top half of the third when Aucoin hit an opposite-field homer to left, her second of the game. The Gamecocks took the 6-5 lead in the bottom of the third on Page’s two-out RBI single, scoring freshman pinch runner Jordyn Augustus.

The Gamecocks’ lead held until the seventh, when Tennessee’s Annie Aldrete had an RBI single with one down. Gamecock sophomore Nickie Blue got a strikeout and a grounder to keep the game tied at 6-6.

Double plays helped the Gamecocks in the first two extra frames. Masters picked up a grounder at second, tagged the runner and threw to first to end the eighth, with Snaer’s quick reflexes helping shorten the ninth.

Blue (11-4) picked up the win with five innings out of the bullpen, giving up one earned run on five hits and three walks while striking out five. Gaffin (3-1) took the loss, allowing two earned runs on five hits and five walks while fanning 11 in seven innings of relief.

Game Changer:
Snaer’s single sent the Gamecocks off a winner, the third-consecutive game SC has ended while hitting.

Key Stat:
Snaer’s hit was the Gamecocks’ fifth in the final seven innings of play, and the one that brought home the game-winner.

• Snaer went 2-for-5 with a double and the game-winning single, both hits coming off of Gaffin.
• Page and Struett both scored twice and had one hit, with Page walking twice to Struett’s one.
• Bizzell went 2-for-5 with a two-RBI double.
• Duffy and Masters also joined Bizzell and Snaer with doubles.
• Aucoin went 2-for-3 with two homers and four RBI for Tennessee.
• Meghan Gregg stood as the only other Lady Vol with two hits.
• South Carolina is now 1-1 in extra-inning games in 2015.
• The Gamecocks claim their first series win over UT since 2002, when they swept the series in Knoxville.

Tweet of the Game:

Sophomore first baseman Kaylea Snaer

On the two big ninth-inning plays
Honestly, I was thinking of the double play before the liner (in the ninth). At bat, I was looking for the drop from Gaffin, as our team struggled against her the first time through. I committed to the outside pitch, and just looked to move the runners up. When I saw Struett rounding third, I knew we were about to score.

Up Next:
The series concludes at 1 p.m. on Sunday between the Lady Vols and Gamecocks. Sunday Runday is the promotion, with fans 12 and under invited to run the bases and get autographs in the postgame.