Tigers Fall In Regular Season Finale, 4-3, At Tennessee
May 21, 2011
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Auburn baseball team left 11 runners on base and allowed Tennessee to score a pair of ninth-inning runs as it fell, 4-3, in the regular season finale for both teams. The loss dropped Auburn's record to 29-27, 14-16 SEC while Tennessee finished its season 25-29, 7-23 SEC.
"I wish we had some of those opportunities back to score a couple of runs," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "We had a bunch of guys in scoring position but we couldn't get the ball in the outfield and we had a couple of crucial strike outs when we needed to put the ball in play. In this league you have to be able to execute and we didn't do that."
Auburn's season will continue next week in the SEC Tournament with an opponent and time to be determined later in the day.
Slade Smith (2-2) took the loss for the second straight series finale despite having another stellar outing, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in the first eight innings before an error in the ninth allowed Tennessee to put the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at first. Smith finished the day matching his career high with eight strike outs while being charged for four runs (three earned) in 8 1/3 innings.
"Any performance isn't good enough if you don't win," Smith said. "We battled and we had a chance to win. It's just frustrating and I hate it for our team. We have to pick our heads up and be ready for the SEC Tournament."
Auburn scored a pair of two-out runs in the third to take a 2-0 lead, a lead it would hold into the sixth. Cullen Wacker (1-for-5, R, RBI) singled in Creede Simpson (1-for-3, BB, R) and Tony Caldwell (1-for-4, RBI) drove in Wacker but Auburn was unable to widen its margin, leaving the bases loaded, the first of two times that would happen in the game.
Tennessee got a run back in the sixth as Mutt Duffy (1-for-3, BB, R) doubled and scored and then tied the game up at 2-2 when Josh Liles (1-for-4) homered off Smith to lead off the eighth.
Auburn took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth as Justin Fradejas (1-for-4, BB, R) scored from second when Liles dropped a Caldwell fly ball in left with two outs.
Smith then hit Davis Morgan (1-for-3, R, RBI) to start the ninth and threw wide of second on a Zach Osborne (0-for-3, R) sac bunt attempt, putting runners at the corners. A Drew Steckenrider (0-for-3, RBI) grounder tied the game and put the winning run at second. Auburn then made the move to Dillon Ortman out of its bullpen but Andrew Toles (2-for-4, RBI) singled back up the middle and Osborne was able to beat Simpson's throw home from center with the winning run.
Nicke Williams (2-1) got the win out of the Tennessee bullpen, throwing the final two innings.
Tennessee 4, Auburn 3 (May 21, 2011 at Knoxville, TN)
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