Jonathan Schuerholz led the way for the Tigers with four hits and two runs scored while three Auburn pitchers combined to allow just four hits for the game while striking out seven.
"We did everything right," Auburn coach Steve Renfroe said following the win. "We defended, we pitched and we hit. We're not knocking the fences down, but we put some in the gaps and hit one out. We did everything well today. The thing I liked the best is that we seemed really sharp. We were focused and you could tell early on we were ready to go, we had some bounce. The third day on the road with a young club, I just thought they did a great job."
While it was a team effort to the fullest, there were several shining stars for the Tigers on Sunday. First and foremost was the play of Schuerholz. Moving from third base to second base and up from ninth to third in the order, the junior responded with his best day of the season at the plate in a time when his team needed it most.
"You have to love it," Schuerholz said of winning on Sunday. "Yesterday was kind of a letdown. We came out a little flat and we showed what we could do today. We came out with heart and we played har...that's what I'm in the lineup for. I'm in there to put pitches in pitchers and get my hits and steal some bases. It's just fun when you're able to do that four out of five times. It was a lot of fun."
Colby Paxton brings the heat during Sunday's game.
Combining to shut down the Vols on Sunday were Colby Paxton, Kenny Clayton and Cory Dueitt. Paxton earned his career-high sixth win of the season by throwing five complete innings, allowing just three hits and one run. Clayton followed with two and two/thirds innings of hitless ball, giving up just one walk. Dueitt closed the door with one and one/third inning of one hit ball. All told, the pitching was dominant for the Tigers as they walk away with the series win.
"It felt pretty good," Clayton said of his performance. "I haven't gotten a chance to throw this weekend and I like getting put in those situations like that. Coming out with a victory is definitely a confidence booster, particularly in the SEC. We're 4-2 now and we're hoping to roll next weekend at Florida."
Holding just a 1-0 lead after three innings, Auburn finally put together an offensive outburst in the fourth and it was the bottom of the order that did the damage. Trent Pratt led off the inning with a double to left field that the wind carried all the way to the wall.
Third baseman Josh Todd followed by earning a base on balls from Terrell to set the stage for Sean Gamble. Just like on Saturday, Gamble failed to advance the runners as his sacrifice bunt was fielded by Terrell and he got it to Sternberg in time at third base to retire Pratt. With slumping Chuck Jeroloman coming to that plate, that seemed to be death to the Auburn offense but the freshman would deliver. Hitless in 15 at-bats in SEC play, Jeroloman quickly got down two strikes but got a pitch to hit and drove it deep over Hopkins' head in left field to score both Todd and Gamble giving Auburn a 3-0 lead.
Moran followed with a single to left that scored Jeroloman from second and, unlike earlier in the weekend, the Tigers strung together a few hits and built a four-run lead.
Doug Vines hits a drive that is caught by the Tennessee centerfielder.
The Vols would get one back in the fifth inning with some help by Paxton. With one out and nobody on, Jordan Czarniecki, the ninth hitter in the Tennessee order, got a walk from the Auburn pitcher. He then stole second to put himself in scoring position for leadoff man Nick Crowe. The second baseman came through with a single to right field. Coming up with the ball cleanly, right fielder Doug Vines threw a bullet to Pratt at the plate. Sliding by head first, Czarniecki missed the plate with his hand but just caught a piece of it with his foot before Pratt applied the tag. Paxton would retire the final two Tennessee hitters in order to end the inning with Auburn ahead 4-1.
Auburn would extend the lead in the seventh and Schuerholz got things going with a leadoff walk. He then stole second with Huddleston at the plate. The designated hitter earned a walk to put runners on first and second with Schade coming to the plate. He intended to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but the sophomore first baseman executed it perfectly and got a base hit out of the deal to load the bases for Pratt. The senior couldn't come through though as he struck out for the first out of the inning. Todd was up next and he grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Schuerholz from third making it 5-1.
Gamble closed the scoring in the inning when he singled up the middle to score Huddleston from third. Leading 6-1, Auburn put the ball in the hands of the bullpen to close the door. Clayton and Dueitt would do just that and Huddleston would add a two-run home run in the eighth for the final margin.
Early on the Tigers missed several opportunities to build a lead. In the first Moran led off with a single and one out later Schuerholz singled to center. Trying to stretch it to third, Moran was thrown out. That effectively killed the rally as Huddleston would strike out to end the inning.
In the second the Tigers once again got runners on base but couldn't push them across. Schade led off the inning with a single up the middle and Pratt followed that with a single of his own that just dropped down the right field line. Schade advanced to third on a fly ball off the bat of Todd and the Tigers looked to be in good shape. Back-to-back strikeouts would end the threat though as both Gamble and Jeroloman struck out to end the inning.
Moran is thrown out trying to stretch it to third.
Auburn finally got on the board in the third inning and Moran was in the middle of things as usual. Leading off the inning, he drew a walk from Terrell bringing Vines to the plate. Vines failed to move Moran up because of a strikeout bringing Schuerholz to the plate. Making Renfroe look like a genius by moving him up in the lineup, Schuerholz singled to right field putting runners on first and second. Easily the two best baserunners on the Auburn team, the duo pulled off a double steal to set up Huddleston with the RBI chance. The designated hitter delivered by grounding out to the second baseman, easily scoring Moran from third with the first run of the game.
The Tigers return to action on Friday when they travel to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators for the first of three games. Game time for Friday is scheduled for 5:30 CST with Saturday slated for 3 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30.