After losing by 13 runs the night before, a ninth-inning comeback put Auburn on top Saturday, taking down the No. 1 Volunteers 8-6.
Just one out away from losing the series, veteran outfielder Kason Howell hit an RBI double to left to tie the game at five. After Sonny DiChiara was given a free pass, Bobby Pierce stepped up to the plate and hit a three-run, bench-clearing home run over the left field wall to give Auburn a three-run lead.
"Once I got to two strikes, I was just kind of battling and fouling lots off," Peirce said. "I was looking for anything over the plate and just recognized it and was able to adjust and make a good swing on it. I've never felt anything like that, that's for sure. It was awesome."
Konner Copeland, who only had 8.1 IP on the season, got the win on the night. He covered the last two frames, striking out two and allowing a single earned run.
"The atmosphere was crazy," Copeland said. "I had adrenaline, but I did my best to not let it get out of control. I just wanted to make sure I had all my stuff going and go out and throw strikes and get the outs."
Trace Bright got the start for the Tigers. After letting up a run in the first, he pitched 4.2 more innings and only gave up two more to the high-powered Tennessee offense. He struck out eight, including two in the second frame.
Auburn’s scoring got started in the third, when Blake Rambusch scored on a wild pitch. The Tigers got three more in the fifth, one from Howell’s RBI single, and two more from DiChiara’s home run later in the inning.
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Auburn let up two runs off wild pitches in the sixth. Tennessee took the lead for the final time in the game in the seventh, when Drew Gilbert singled up the middle.
It was Auburn’s 31st win on the season, and 12th in conference play. Sonny DiChiara added to his extraordinary season, reaching base four times and adding two RBI to his total. Howell finished 2-for-5, even adding a stolen base.
"Gabe (Gross) talks about doing the little things and the big things will happen," Howell said. "You've got to shrink your mind there and just let those little things happen."
The rubber match for the series is set for Sunday, with first pitch pinned for 1 p.m. CT.
“We’ve got Joseph Gonzalez going and we’ve got a chance to win a series on the road like we’ve done a lot this year,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “We’ve got great bounce-back and we’ve had great confidence in game three. I’ll show up to the park as excited as I am everyday.”
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