The Tennessee Volunteers (38-19, 14-16) couldn’t get it done against the Auburn Tigers (33-23, 14-16) on Tuesday night, falling 5-3 in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
It’s a bit of an anticlimactic end to a regular season that saw the Vols improve their win total by nine games, and now they will await their fate when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.
Auburn’s pitching staff dominated the night, allowing three runs off of just four hits. Reliever Bailey Horn (3-0) got the win, while Garrett Stallings was handed the loss (8-4).
Horn was sensational on the night, allowing just one run and one hit, while recording six strikeouts in four innings pitched.
The Vols were able to get out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to a sacrifice fly, but they couldn’t get much else done outside of that.
Auburn jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the second inning. The Tigers were able to bring in both runs off two hits and it would’ve been worse if not for an excellent play by Vols’ shortstop Ricky Martinez.
The third and fourth innings didn’t see much action. Both Stallings and the Tigers’ starting pitcher, Elliot Anderson, dominated both innings, recording a combined six strikeouts and allowing just one hit.
Tennessee somehow managed to tie things up in the top of the fifth without even recording a hit. Christian Scott began the inning with a lead-off walk and then was brought home due to three wild pitches form Anderson.
But Auburn’s offense answered right back in the bottom of the inning. Two of the first three batters reached base, setting up a bunt from Judd Ward to drive in Edouard Julien for the 3-2 lead. Stallings was able to retire the last two batters, but the damage had already been done by then.
Neither team got on the board in the sixth, but Auburn was able to drive in two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to push the lead to 5-2.
Tennessee got the comeback off to a good start in the top of the ninth thanks to a home run from Zach Daniels to cut the lead to 5-3. Thing became a bit more dire for the Tigers after Connor Pavolony was hit by a pitch and it looked like the Vols had a chance to take the lead off a three-run home run by Scott, but it was caught right at the right field wall before it crossed over. Cody Greenhill - who came in to relieve Horn - was able to clean up nicely, striking out Jay Charleston to end the inning and the Vols’ SEC Tournament run.
Tennessee will now play the waiting game as it awaits it fate concerning the NCAA Tournament. The majority of pundits have the Vols in the field of 64, but they will find out for sure during The NCAA Baseball Selection Show that begins on May 27th at 12PM EST on ESPNU.