In Auburn’s two victories this week, the Tigers’ bullpen bent but did not break. Friday night, the ‘pen finally broke.
Tennessee rallied for three runs against the Auburn bullpen to tie and eventually walk off with a 5-4 win in the second game of the series.
Auburn led 4-1 at the seventh inning stretch in Knoxville, but after starter Keegan Thompson departed, the door opened for the Volunteers.
Calvin Coker was the first man out of the Auburn bullpen and surrendered two runs in the seventh. Andrew Mitchell relieved Coker and allowed a sacrifice fly in the eighth to tie the game at four. Mitchell fired a scoreless ninth inning, giving Auburn a chance to win in extra innings.
Junior Corey Herndon entered in the bottom of the 10th, and immediately loaded the bases without recording an out. Tennessee first baseman Andre Lipcius followed with a sacrifice fly to right field that gave the Vols the win.
“It’s tough competing every day. When you win it feels good and when you wind up short it doesn’t feel the same,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “We just have to keep competing. Keegan just battled for us. Again, much like he looked last week, he just didn’t surrender anything. As soon as we got to a bullpen, it just wasn’t as good.”
Thompson rebounded from his first loss of the season last weekend with six solid innings in Knoxville. He allowed just one run on seven hits and struck out five. He threw 91 pitches, 62 for strikes.
“That’s the whole deal with our depth tonight,” Butch Thompson said. “For the most part our starters have done so much work all year but for us to continue to move forward we’re going to have to make a call to that bullpen and somebody will have to get some real outs when it matters.”
Auburn took the lead in the third on a RBI double by Jonah Todd. The double, Todd’s team-leading 12th of the season, scored Blake Logan. Daniel Robert followed with another double two batters to plate Todd and stretch the Tigers’ lead to 2-0.
Logan singled to left with two away in the fourth to score Luke Jarvis and widen the Tigers’ lead to 3-0.
Logan and Todd both had two hits and one RBI. Robert also recorded a RBI. Conor Davis also finished with two hits.
Auburn chased Tennessee starter Garrett Stallings after 3.2 innings. He allowed three runs on five hits. Zach Linginfelter pitched three relief innings with one unearned run allowed and five strikeouts.
Tennessee closer Jon Lipinski picked up his fourth win of the season, throwing 2.1 scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
Jordan Rodgers finished the evening with three hits for the Vols while Benito Santiago had two.
“Tennessee out-played us the last four frames and got the victory,” Auburn’s second-year head coach said. “It will come down to execution again tomorrow who will win this series.”
The rubber game of the series is set for 1 p.m. Saturday. Auburn (26-11, 9-5) will send Davis Daniel to the mound while Zach Warren gets the nod for Tennessee (18-14, 4-10).