Auburn, Ala.--Tennessee used the long ball to give Auburn its first home softball loss of the season and just the second in SEC play, taking an 8-6 victory on Friday night to even the series with one win apiece.
Trailing 8-3 going into in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tigers made it interesting by scoring once in the frame and two more in the seventh before pitcher Rainey Griffin escaped with the tying runs on base.
Four home runs for the visitors and a solid pitching performance by reliever Gaffin sparked the Vols, who improved their record to 27-8 overall and 7-4 in the SEC. Auburn fell to 9-2 in the SEC and 36-5 overall.
Prior to Friday night the Tigers had a record of 21-0 in games at Jane B. Moore Field where a sellout crowd of 1,736 watched the action.
The final game of the series will be played at 3:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday and the contest will be televised on the SEC Network.
“We talk about intelligent hitting, we didn’t do that,” Auburn coach Clint Myers said, noting that his team swung at too many pitches outside the strike zone until showing more patience at the end of the game. “It is something we have to do a better job of.”
Myers said he is chalking the loss up as a learning experience. “We are not making excuses,” he said. “We are learning and can we play better? Most definitely. Can we hit better? Most definitely.?
The Auburn coach said his team’s pitchers hurt their cause by putting runners on base with walks and hit by pitches. “You can’t give good teams extra opportunities to beat you,” said Myers, who added, “Tonight we gave them just way too much.”
Tennessee scored first with a fly ball, wind-blown, solo home run by starting pitcher Gretchen Aucoin in the opening inning.
Auburn tied the score in the second inning with a rocket shot solo home run to left center field by Jade Rhodes for her team-leading 16th of the season.
The Tigers took the lead with a pair of runs in the second inning. A walk to Tiffany Howard got the rally started. She scored from first base on a double to right center field by Emily Carosone, who scored on a line drive to center field by Kasey Cooper.
Emily Carosone waits on second base for a teammate to drive her home.
The Vols made a pitching change and got out of the inning without further damage.
Auburn starting pitcher Marcy Harper got into trouble in the fourth inning by hitting a batter to start the inning and giving up a one-out walk before giving up a three-run homer to Scarlet McSwain to put the Vols up 4-3.
Tennessee threatened again in the fourth after a leadoff walk and a bunt single put Harper in a jam. A pitching change was the answer for the Tigers as Lexi Davis got out of the inning without allowing a run.
The Vols added four insurance runs in the sixth inning with a three-run homer followed by an inside-the-park home run to stretch the lead to 8-3.
A sacrifice fly by Morgan Estell brought home a run in the bottom of the sixth inning for the Tigers. A groundout by Haley Fagan and a single by Rhodes scored the two runs in seventh before a groundout by Jenna Abbott ended the threat and the game.