Top-ranked Vols explode late to down Auburn in series opener
Published 12:42 am Saturday, April 30, 2022
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KNOXVILLE – Tennessee plated 15 runs and logged 16 hits in the seventh and eighth innings to dismantle No. 17/19 Auburn, 17-4, Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.Jorel Ortega picked a clutch moment to deliver for the Vols (39-3, 18-1 SEC), who had fallen behind, 4-2, in the sixth inning and were struggling to get the bats going heading to the seventh.
That quickly changed as UT strung four straight hits together, scoring a run and loading the bases for Ortega. The second baseman, following a brief delay, put the Vols ahead by smashing a 1-2 fastball into the porches in left-center to give the Big Orange a 7-4 lead that was just the start of a massive offensive showing.
In total, Tennessee scored 15 runs in its final two team at-bats, posting eight runs in the seventh and seven more in the eighth. The Vols smashed six homers in those two innings with four coming in the eighth.
Evan Russell supplied two of those jacks, a three-run shot in the seventh and a two-run blast in the eighth that was the 100th of the season for UT.
The Vols entered the sixth inning with just three hits as a team, but over their final six outs on offense, they compiled 16 base knocks, nine going for extra bases.
Auburn (30-13, 11-8 SEC) used a three-run blast from Blake Rambusch to take its sixth-inning lead, but were held scoreless in every other inning.
The Tigers battled through two different injuries to its pitchers, beginning with its starter Hayden Mullins, who had to leave the game in the second inning with an apparent arm injury.
In total, the Vols had seven players finish the game with multiple hits, racked up 10 extra-base hits and three multi-RBI performances, led by Russell, who tied a career-high six RBIs.
Ortega drove in five runs, as well, which marked his most RBIs in a single game.Mark McLaughlin earned the win, his second of the season, throwing two scoreless innings in relief while striking out three Tigers.
The Vols and Tigers will battle again under the lights Saturday night. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
CRUSHING THE CENTURY MARK:
With the six home run night, the Volunteers hit their 100th long ball of the season in just the 42nd game of the year. With three weeks left in the regular season, plus the postseason, Tennessee is only seven homers away from tying the program record of 107.
Tennessee, with 19 hits and six home runs, posted the highest totals in both columns versus an SEC team in a game this season. It was the Vols best offensive performance in a conference game since defeating Texas A&M, 20-7, in College Station on April 25, 2021, a game where the Vols posted 21 hits and had six big flies.