Over the course of 20 innings, Auburn's starters performed about as well as you can possibly hope for, allowing only 1 run to the Vols' hitters. With the bats doing just enough in Game 1 and then blowing Tennessee out in Game 3, the Tigers were able to get out of Knoxville with the big series win.
Game 1: 3-2 Auburn
Auburn loves to make things dramatic, it seems. That's what happened Friday night, as the Tigers took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th inning. Casey Mize pitched the first 6 innings of this one, allowing only 3 hits, walking no one, and striking out 7 Vols. Cole Libscomb pitched 2.1 innings, shutting the Vols down in the 7th and 8th, but a walk and then a couple of hits and the Vols were within 1 with the tying run on 1st. Andrew Mitchell came in and finished the game off and preserve the win.
At the plate, Auburn scored in the 1st and 2nd innings thanks to a Conor Davis double that scored Jonah Todd in the 1st and a Luke Jarvis home run in the 2nd. That was it until the 7th when Luke Jarvis hit a 1-out triple and then scored on a Damon Haecker sacrifice fly ball. That Jarvis run turned out to be the difference in the game when Tennessee scored their 2 in the 9th.
Game 2: 4-5 Tennessee
Auburn struck first again in Game 2. In the 3rd, Auburn scored thanks to two doubles by Jonah Todd and Daniel Robert. Todd's scored Logan, who had just singled. Two batters lated, Robert scored Todd with his double. Blake Logan singled home Luke Jarvis in the 4th to give Auburn a 3-0 lead. UT got one back in the 4th, and Auburn scored their final run of the game in the 7th when Conor Davis reached on a throwing error that scored Jonah Todd.
Keegan Thompson pitched the first 6 innings. The run allowed in the 4th was the only run allowed by a starter. When Keegan was pulled, Auburn's one big weakness began to show: outside of Cole Lipscomb, Auburn's bullpen isn't the most reliable. Tennessee scored 2 in the 7th and then 1 more in the 8th to tie the game. That sent it to extra innings, where Tennessee scored in the 10th to win the game.
It really never should have gotten to that point, though, as the Tigers left 10+ on base and struck out 15 times. If the bullpen is the biggest weakness, the batters going a little cold at times is definitely not far behind it.
Game 3: 8-1 Auburn
Sunday afternoon, Auburn's bats really awoke. It took a few innings, though, as the first run was scored in the 4th on a Jay Estes double that scored Jonah Todd. Daniel Robert then singled Estes home for the 2-0. A Bo Decker home run - the first of his career - increased the score to 3-0 in the 5th. A Conor Davis single scored Estes for the second time of the game.
Auburn put two on board with 2 outs in in the 7th. Dylan Ingram then increased Auburn's lead by three more when Dylan Ingram hit a 3-run bomb to left field. Another Jonah Todd single to score Luke Jarvis - again - increased it to 8-0 in the 8th.
While the bats were hot, freshman Davis Daniel continued the trend of the starters being awesome on the mound. He threw 8 scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits, walking 3 people, and striking out 5. He was pulled for the 9th inning and Ryan Watson was put in to finish the game. He gave up a home run to end the shutout, but then closed the game out for a series win.
The Way Forward
After a few weeks away from home, the Tigers will return to Plainsman Park next weekend after a stop in Atlanta to take on Kennesaw State. They'll face red-hot Arkansas - the leader in the SEC West - next weekend at home in one of the bigger series of the year. They started the season sweeping Mississippi State - who has been red-hot themselves ever since that series - and have only dropped one series (on the road in Baton Rouge to LSU) all season and just swept UGA.
Things don't get easy for Auburn going forward. After Arkansas they go on the road to Mississippi State. To keep momentum going, they need to win next weekend at home against the Piggies.