From Auburn Media Relations:
AUBURN, Ala. - Deadlocked going to the bottom of the eighth, Auburn scored seven times off of the Tennessee bullpen to claim a 12-5 series-opening win on Friday night. The win upped Auburn's record to 23-19, 8-11 SEC while Tennessee fell to 22-20, 7-12 SEC.
"We had two really big innings," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "We scored four runs in the third inning and then seven in the eighth inning. The bottom of the lineup was really good. Gonzo (Jay Gonzalez), (Zach) Alvord and Bobby Andrews did a really good job for us."
Tied at 5-5 after seven-and-a-half innings, Auburn sent 12 men to the plate in the eighth and collected five hits and a season-high seven runs in the inning. Creede Simpson's sacrifice fly started the scoring and gave Auburn a 6-5 lead with two outs in the inning but the Auburn bats didn't quiet down until six more runs had come across. Garrett Cooper walked, Justin Bryant was hit by a pitch and Dan Glevenyak walked to load the bases for Blake Austin. Austin, who finished the night with two hits, including a double, singled in two runs for an 8-5 lead. Jay Gonzalez followed with a run-scoring single before Zach Alvord doubled in two for an 11-5 lead. Bobby Andrews' RBI single capped the scoring for Auburn as the bottom four in Auburn's lineup finished the night a combined 11-for-17 with five runs scored and 10 RBIs.
Alvord finished the game 3-for-5 with a career-high five RBIs for Auburn.
"I was seeing the ball really well tonight. It felt good to finally barrel up the ball a few times," Alvord said. "Coach (Pawlowski) likes to say `hang around with some teams and find a way to win at the end.' The team came out fired up tonight."
Working in relief for the second straight game, Derek Varnadore (2-6) earned his first win since opening night, allowing a hit and a walk in three innings while striking out three. The senior entered in the seventh with the game tied at 5-5 and retired the first five hitters he faced and didn't allow either of Tennessee's base runners to advance into scoring position.
"It feels good to come out and pick up a win on Friday night. We needed that one and I needed that one," Varnadore said.
Tennessee reliever Drew Steckenrider (4-4) was tagged for the loss as he allowed the first two runs of Auburn's seven-run inning.
Auburn led 5-0 after the third after scoring four times in the third, two of which came on an Alvord double.
Tennessee answered with a three-run fourth to narrow the margin to 5-3 and knock Auburn starter Jon Luke Jacobs from the game. Tennessee used a walk, three straight singles and a RBI groundout for its runs in the inning and then tied it in the sixth on a Will Maddox RBI groundout.
The win was Auburn's first on a Friday SEC night since the second series of the year.
Auburn will try to capture the series on Saturday at 3pm when it sends Daniel Koger to the mound. Tennessee will counter with Robbie Kidd.