Auburn holds off Tennessee
AUBURN, Ala. -- Niko Buentello hit a go-ahead homer and Casey Mize pitched 6.1 innings out of the bullpen as Auburn baseball won the series over Tennessee with a 7-6 victory on Saturday at Plainsman Park.
"It didn't start pretty, but Casey Mize did the job on the mound today," Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. "At the end, our guys really persevered. If we do well pitching and playing defense, we will have a good chance to win the series and we did that this weekend. Our first SEC series victory was huge to us. Niko (Buentello) has faced some tough left handed pitchers this series. He really hung in there and broke through with some big hits for us today. I think after Thursday night, our players really made a commitment and you could really see the energy in the dugout the last two days. It's good to see them get rewarded and maybe it will be something we can build on moving forward. We are at the half way point now in SEC play and we are just going to try and continue growing and building for the rest of the season."
Buentello hit a solo home run, his team-best eighth of the season, to right field with two outs in the eighth inning to give Auburn a 6-5 lead. Damon Haecker's RBI single two batters later made it 7-5.
The five-run comeback was the largest deficit overcome this season by Auburn (17-19, 5-10).
Haecker reached base five times with two RBI and a stolen base to lead the Tigers.
Mize's 6.1 innings out of the bullpen marked his longest outing since a March 12 win over Oral Roberts. It was his longest career relief outing. He allowed four hits and two runs with four strikeouts.
Gabe Klobosits (2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K) completed the final two innings to earn the win. He improved to 2-2 on the season.
Tennessee (20-16, 4-11) took a 3-0 lead in the first on four hits off starter Andrew Mitchell. He was lifted with two outs in the inning and the bases loaded. Mize entered and got the final out to strand three.
The Vols stretched the lead to 5-0 on a 2-run homer by Nick Senzel in the second.
Senzel paced Tennessee with two hits and two RBI.
Auburn got on the board in the third with a RBI ground out by Buentello and scored another when Haecker was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to cut the deficit to 5-2.
The Tigers added a run in the fourth when Jonathan Foster scored on a passed ball to make it 5-3.
Auburn tied the game at five in the fifth on a bases-loaded walk to Kyler Deese and a balk that brought home Jackson Burgreen.
Foster tied his career high with three hits. Buentello and Ebert both tallied a pair of hits.
Jon Lipinski took the loss for the Vols to drop to 2-1. He allowed two runs on five hits in 3.1 innings.
Tennessee threatened in the ninth scoring a run off Klobosits.
Auburn is in action next on Tuesday against Alabama State at 6 pm at Plainsman Park.