Vols Even Series With Victory In 10th Inning

Tennessee won a see-saw battle with a strong relief pitching effort and a two-out hit in the 10th.

Knoxville, Tenn.--Tennessee turned the tables on the Auburn Tigers by winning a one-run college baseball game on Saturday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

A single to right field with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Vols a 7-6 victory. In the first of the three-game series on Friday night, Auburn won 4-3 on a ninth inning homer by Josh Sullivan.

On Saturday night, Michael Rivera's ground ball single scored Brian Cleveland from second base on a close plate at home as the umpire ruled Sullivan's tag was too late.

The victory improved UT's record to 21-4 overall and 3-2 in the SEC as UT bullpen ace Scott Drucker allowed just two hits in 4 1/3 innings to pick up the win. He struck out eight Auburn batters. Corey Dueitt, who pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief, suffered the loss.

Auburn scored in the top of the first inning. Clete Thomas reached base on a single and moved into scoring position by stealing second and third. Sullivan delivered a two-out line drive single to give the Tigers a 1-0 edge.

UT responded in the bottom of the inning with two runs off starter Arnold Hughey, who got off to a rocky start at Rocky Top. He walked the leadoff hitter and gave up three straight singles before getting an out and managing to get out of what could have been even bigger trouble.

Auburn wasted no time in regaining the lead. Derek Sain walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on a bunt single by Ben Maitland. A throwing error by pitcher Sean Watson sent Sain home to tie the game. The Tigers took a 3-2 lead when Maitland scored on a ground ball out by Sean Gamble.

Auburn added a run to the lead in the top of the fourth on a long homer to right by J.T. Williamson, his first as a collegian. After Gamble walked, UT replaced starting pitcher Watson, who gave up four hits and five bases on ball.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Vols cut the lead to one as leadoff hitter Eli Iorg launched a long homer over the left field fence to cut the gap to 4-3. Auburn coach Steve Renfroe made a trip to the mound, but left Hughey in the game with Chris Dennis working in the bullpen. Hughey gave up a double to the second batter in the inning, but got out of the fourth without any more damage.

The Vols finally chased Hughey in the fifth inning. Iorg, who led UT with three hits, came through again, this time with a two-out double just inside the third base bag. With a batter hit by a pitch and a single, there were two runners on base and both scored to put UT on top 5-4.

Cleveland then singled to put the home team ahead 6-4 and that was the end of the night for Hughey, who gave up 10 hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings. Chris Dennis came out of the bullpen and got the third out. He pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Auburn responded immediately in its next at-bat. Singles by Maitland and Hulett gave Thomas a chance to tie the game with a two-out triple into the left-center field power alley. After the blow by Thomas, the Vols brought in their bullpen ace, Drucker, the fifth UT pitcher of the evening. Drucker stranded the runner on third by striking out Bell to leave the score 6-6.

Drucker, who improved his record to 3-1, kept Auburn in check until his teammates could provide the winning running in the 10th inning. Dueitt, who took the loss, is 3-2 for the Tigers, who slipped to 19-6 overall and 2-3 in SEC games.

"It was a great ball game," said Auburn coach Steve Renfroe. "You have to tip your hat to Drucker. He came in and really stopped us. We had a few chances, but he did the job when he had to.

"Cory (Duiett) pitched outstanding," Renfroe added "He jammed the guy (Cleveland) and he hit the chalk (with a double) and Rivera hit one off the fist that got through for the winning run."

Sullivan, Maitland and Thomas had two hits apiece for the Tigers, who were outhit 13-9.

The two teams will finish the series with a 1 p.m. CST start on Sunday in a game that will be televised regionally by CSS.

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