Auburn defeated Tennessee as it mounted its biggest comeback victory of the season Saturday afternoon, 7-6, to claim its first SEC series win of the season.
Tennessee started hot with a 3-run inning courtesy of two consecutive RBI doubles.
The Volunteers continued to score, putting two runs on the board in the second. The score was 5-0, Tennessee.
Auburn turned it around in the third. The top of the lineup — Anfernee Grier, Melvin Gray and Jordan Ebert — quickly loaded the bases. A fielder’s choice by Niko Buentello and a Damone Haecker hit-by-pitch knocked in two runs. Auburn grounded into a double play to end the inning.
After scoring one in the fourth, Auburn meticulously loaded the bases in the fifth via walks, HBP’s, and Tennessee errors.
Auburn’s Jonathan Foster scored, then Haecker scored on a balk, tying the ballgame at five apiece.
Auburn’s final two runs came in the eighth.
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Buentello flashed his defensive skillset in the top half of the inning, knocking down a ball lined down the first base line that had extra-base potential.
“He just smothered it," said Auburn coach Butch Thompson. "Just left his feet for the ball."
Then Buentello led off the inning and served a go-ahead bomb over the right-field fence.
Haecker also had an RBI single in the inning.
Thompson quickly pointed to the team when asked about the comeback.
“I think it was the players themselves, I tip my hat to my players," Thompson said. "Nick Buentello and Coach (Doug) Sisson had early work one-on-one today. I think it made a difference…I want to compliment the players are here before anyone gets to the park."
Auburn’s Gabe Klobosits was able to pitch out of a jam in the ninth to pick up the win, putting him at 2-2 on the season.
Defense hurt Tennessee, but Thompson thought it was a big part of Auburn’s win.
“Offense is fun, and offense can win a ballgame, but…there’s no question about you have to pitch and play defense," Thompson said. "Baseball’s always been that way."
Buentello also thought defense was key in their victory, saying, “If we played defense like this, we’d have a lot more wins on our record right now. It’s going to carry over to help us next week.”
Auburn will play at Plainsman Park Tuesday vs. Alabama St. at 6 p.m. before heading to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on the Ole Miss Rebels next weekend.
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