May 16, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
AUBURN, Ala. - The University of Tennessee baseball team fell behind early and could never recover, as it dropped its first series in the second half of its Southeastern Conference schedule with a 9-2 loss to No. 18 Auburn on an overcast Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park. The Volunteers fall to 29-23 this season and 12-15 in league play, while the Tigers improve to 35-17 overall and 17-10 in conference action.
"Auburn just did a great job of hitting with runners in scoring position," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "To me, the biggest difference was that they didn't walk or hit anyone and we gave them eight free baserunners with six walks and two hit batters. That's what it came down to. You just can't do that. Auburn made us work for everything and we just gave them too much."
The Vols actually out-hit the Tigers on Sunday, scattering 11 hits, including two each from juniors P.J. Polk, Cody Hawn and Matt Duffy. Blake Forsythe and Zach Osborne had UT's only two extra-base hits on the day as they notched leadoff doubles in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, and scored both of Tennessee's runs.
On the mound, sophomore Matt Ramsey was spectacular out of the bullpen once again, retiring all seven batters he faced, including three strikeouts, after coming in with two outs and two on in the bottom of the sixth.
Much like it did on Saturday, Auburn wasted little time jumping out to a quick lead, as Justin Fradejas led off the bottom of the first with an infield single and Trent Mummey followed with a two-run shot, his third home run in two games. The Tigers then added two more in the second inning, taking advantage of three walks before a sacrifice fly by Fradejas and an RBI single by Mummey made it 4-0 in favor of the home team.
Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth, which Forsythe got started with a double off the base of the wall in left center. He then moved to third on a fly out to center by Hawn before moving up the final 90 feet on an RBI single to center by Duffy.
The Tigers came roaring right back though, tallying three more runs in their half of the fourth. After loading the bases with two singles, sandwiched around an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt, a sac fly by Fradejas. UT did get an out on the play, as the runners took off for second and third after the ball had already been returned to the infield. UT pitcher Steve Crnkovich simply threw the ball to Duffy at third who tagged Dan Gamache out sliding into the bag for the second out. Mummey kept AU rolling, however, singling home another run on the very next pitch.
The Big Orange got one of the runs back in the top of the fifth, utilizing another leadoff double, this time from Osborne and a one-out RBI single by Polk. Once again, however, Auburn would have an immediate answer, getting a leadoff home run from Hunter Morris, followed by a hit batter and a run-scoring double.
The Vols threatened in the top of the seventh, putting two runners on base with two outs following singles through the left side of the infield by both Ramsey and junior Khayyan Norfork. Relief pitcher Zach Blatt would come on to end the frame, however, getting Polk to punch a 3-2 pitch on the ground to first, which Morris scooped up easily for the final out.
UT tried to put something together in the top of the eighth as well. After a tremendous diving catch by Mummey in right center robbed Forsythe of an extra-base hit and put two outs on the board, Hawn and Duffy followed with back-to-back singles to put two runners on base. They would both be stranded though, as a fielder's choice ended the stanza. That would be the last time either team would get a runner on base, however, as Ramsey and Blatt retired the side in order over the final inning and a half.
The Big Orange will look to return to the win column on Tuesday, May 18, when it closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 7 p.m. showdown against UNC-Asheville at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville. UT will then host a three-game series against Alabama with a potential postseason berth on the line the following weekend. For more information on Tennessee baseball, visit UTSports.com or follow @VolBaseball on Twitter.