The Auburn baseball team completed its first Southeastern Conference series sweep of the season with an 11-4 win over Tennessee on Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park. The win upped Auburn’s record to 25-19, 10-11 SEC while Tennessee dropped to 22-22, 7-14 SEC.
“Our confidence just continues to build,” Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. “Offensively I thought we did so many good things and it was up-and-down the lineup, it wasn’t one guy. Blake (Austin) stepped up, Jay Gonzalez had a big base hit the other way and Zach hit a home run. A lot of guys contributed.”
Trailing 4-1 after the third, Auburn scored 10 unanswered runs off of the Tennessee pitching staff to earn a sweep over Tennessee for the first time since the 2001 season. Auburn benefited from seven of its 13 hits going for extra-bases as the team collected three doubles, two triples and two home runs.
Blake Austin had two of the extra-base hits, finishing the game 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and a career-high five RBI as he finished the weekend 7-for-11 with two doubles, a home run and 10 RBI.
“I am seeing the ball well and I think hitting is contagious,” Austin said. “It is more of a team thing than me as individual. This was a great weekend for us hitting-wise and pitching-wise.”
“Blake (Austin) is playing with a lot of confidence. He is catching the ball and doing a great job behind the plate,” Pawlowski said.
Auburn reliever Slade Smith (3-4) earned the win out of the bullpen, allowing just on base runner in three innings of work, striking out two. The junior entered in the fifth with Auburn behind 4-3 and allowed just a single to start the seventh before giving the ball over to Derek Varnadore with Auburn ahead, 7-4. Varnadore then retired all six hitters he faced to earn his first career save.
Down 3-0 after the top of the second as Tennessee scored on a Trey Cochran-Gill wild pitch and RBI hits from Chris Pierce and Will Maddox, Cullen Wacker tripled and scored for Auburn’s first run of the game in the bottom half of the frame.
Tennessee answered with a run on a Jake Rowland RBI groundout to take a 4-1 lead in the top of the third, an advantage it would hold until the bottom of the fourth.
Auburn narrowed the margin to a run, 4-3, as Austin hit his second home of the season, a two-run shot, in the bottom of the fourth.
A three-run fifth followed off of Tennessee reliever Carter Watson (3-3) as Austin hit a bases-loaded infield single to score a run and Jay Gonzalez drove in two with his single, bringing the score to 6-4 Auburn.
After scoring a single run in the seventh on an Austin sac fly, Auburn tacked on four more in the eighth, highlighted by Zach Alvord’s fifth home run of the season to start the frame and Wacker’s two-run double to cap the scoring.
Auburn out-scored Tennessee 35-11 on the weekend and collected 41 hits, 19 of which went for extra-bases (13 doubles, three triples, three home runs).
The team also got a stolen base from Creede Simpson in the sixth, the club’s 80th on the season.
Auburn returns to the field on Friday at 6pm CT at Georgia in the first of a three-game series.
Courtesy AU Media Relations