The victory gives the Vols a series win over Auburn for the first time since 1998 and a series win in Auburn since 1986. It improves their record to 16-2 on the season. Auburn falls to 16-7 overall and 1-2 in SEC play. Despite the loss, coach Tommy Slater said he was proud of the effort his team gave all weekend both in the field and at the plate.
"Overall, we pitched extremely well the whole weekend," Slater said. "I'm very happy with our Friday and Saturday performances on the mound. (Tennessee) is a good pitching staff. They threw strikes and mixed their pitches well with a lot of off-speed pitches. We've just got to get a better approach to those types of guys.
"I like the way we're playing," Slater added. "I'm not real happy losing two out of three, nobody would be, but I want to credit our kids. They've worked hard and they're playing hard."
For the Tigers on the mound things weren't as good as four pitchers combined to give up seven runs on 14 hits. Starter Josh Blake gave up three runs on four hits in three innings before giving way to Jared Shore. Shore was impressive, allowing just one run on three hits in three innings. Mike Felix got one inning in, giving up two hits and one run. Michael Nix pitched the last two innings for the Tigers, allowing two runs on four hits.
It didn't take long for the Vols to jump on the Tigers on a beautiful Sunday afternoon as Chase Headley homered to lead off the second inning to give his team the quick lead. With Adkins cruising Tennessee opened up the lead in the third inning with two more runs. Josh Alley's one-out single up the middle got things started for Tennessee and Blake walked Eric King to put a runner into scoring position.
Sunday was Felix's first outing since pitching one inning back on March 1.
Playing aggressive baseball, the Vols started both runners. That proved to be bad news for the Tigers as Josh Bell's throw from behind the plate got away from Phillip Stringer at third, allowing Alley to score and King to advance to third base. Cale Iorg then singled to right field to score King and make it 3-0 Tennessee heading to the bottom of the third.
Auburn finally got to Adkins in the third as Stringer led off with a double just inside the left field line. Shortstop Adam Stacey moved Stringer to third with a ground ball out to the right side, bringing Tyler Johnstone to the plate. Down 1-2 in the count, Johnstone fought off an outside breaking ball and pulled it up the middle for a RBI single. Tennessee led just 3-1 and with Shore on they remained scoreless until the sixth.
Leading off the inning, Iorg reached on a bunt single and stole second one out later with Headley at the plate. He again did damage to the Tigers with a double to left field that easily scored Iorg and put the Vols up 4-1. Auburn got one back in the bottom of the inning, but a huge play by Iorg kept it from being a big inning.
With one out Bruce Edwards led off the rally with a single up the middle and Clete Thomas followed with a sharp single to right that Iorg fielded cleanly in right field and came up throwing. Never slowing down, Edwards rounded second heading for third, but Iorg's throw beat him to the bag for the second out of the inning. It proved to be a big play as Karl Amonite followed with a double to center that scored Thomas all the way from first. Down just 4-2 the Tigers were looking for another late inning comeback, but it wasn't to be.
In the eighth Headley again was a thorn in the side of the Tigers with a leadoff double. He later scored on a Rob Fitzgerald double to make it 5-2. In the ninth doubles by Alley, King and J.P. Arencibia scored two more runs for the Vols to make the final 7-2 Tennessee.
Thomas led the way for the Tigers with two hits, the only Auburn player to have more than one hit. Amonite's double was the only extra-base hit for the Tigers on the day as Adkins handcuffed hitter after hitter. Headley had three hits to lead the Vols along with three from Iorg.
The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Tigers next week as they travel to Atlanta on Tuesday to face the fifth-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for one game. Then they travel to Baton Rouge next weekend for a three-game series against the LSU Tigers, who swept Georgia on the road to open the SEC season.
Elsewhere around the SEC it was Alabama sweeping Kentucky in Tuscaloosa, Ole Miss winning two of three from Florida in Oxford, Arkansas winning two of three at South Carolina and Mississippi State winning two of three from Vanderbilt in Starkville.