Vols fall to Auburn, 12-3

AUBURN, Ala. (UT release) -- Auburn rode a six-run fourth inning to a 12-3 victory in game two against Tennessee on Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park.

“This team is struggling right now in all phases,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “It’s hard to pinpoint what we can do right now, but as coaches we have to stick with the processes that we believe in and these guys have to fight their way out of this.

“If we want to have a chance of reaching our long-range goals we have to come out and fight because to me the season is on the line tomorrow even with three more weekend series to go. We have to get a win on the road and prove some character. I told the team that tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

The Volunteers managed just five hits in the contest with Davis Morgan collecting the team’s only extra-base hit on the day. Freshman Robbie Kidd (2-2) suffered the loss after allowing seven runs on six hits and four walks over the first 3.1 innings.

Fellow first-year Vol Eric Martin did yeoman’s work out of the bullpen for Tennessee, firing a career-high 4.2 innings and striking out two. He entered the contest with just four total innings pitched in his brief collegiate career.

“Eric came in when it could have really gotten ugly,” Serrano said. “It was ugly enough for me but it could have really gotten bad and Eric kind of calmed it down a little bit and allowed us not to go down to the bullpen where we are really light right now in arms. Hopefully that is a shot in the arm for tomorrow.”

After a scoreless first inning, Auburn struck the first blow of the contest as Jay Gonzalez stroked an RBI single in the bottom of the second to put the Tigers up 1-0.

The Vols had a chance to tie the game up in the next frame, putting runners on the corners with just one out after Chris Pierce was hit by a pitch and Nick Powell delivered a one-out single.

Will Maddox then laid down a safety squeeze bunt just out in front of the plate, but Pierce had to hold until the Tigers threw down to first before taking off for home. A perfect throw back to the plate by the first baseman then cut Pierce down for the third out.

The floodgates opened for Auburn after that, as it tacked on two runs in the third and scored six times in the fourth to jump out to a commanding 9-0 lead.

Tennessee finally got on the board in the top of the fifth, scoring a pair of unearned runs. After a leadoff single by Chris Fritts, Jared Allen roped a line drive to center that was misplayed by Ryan Tella for a three-base error that allowed Fritts to score from first. Pierce followed with an RBI groundout on the next pitch to bring in UT’s second run and put the tally on the scoreboard at 9-2.

The Vols had another chance to cut into the Auburn lead in the sixth, loading the bases with two outs. Tiger relief pitcher Cory Luckie came on to strike out Allen to end the threat, however.

AU responded with three more runs in the bottom of the frame on a two-run single by Blake Austin and a solo home run by Zach Alvord to push its lead to double digits at 12-2.

Tennessee got back-to-back singles from Maddox and Zach Osborne to start the eighth inning before scoring their final run of the contest on a 5-4-3 double play.

The Vols will go back to Friday night starter Nick Williams again on Sunday afternoon after he threw just 56 pitches in the series opener. The series finale is set for a 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET start.

For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee baseball program, visit UTSports.com/baseball and follow @Vol_Baseball on Twitter. To purchase tickets, visit UTTix.com.

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