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Tennessee Baseball’s Offense Explodes In Series Clinching Victory At Auburn

Photo By Grayson Belanger/Auburn Tigers

Tennessee baseball’s bats exploded for the second straight game as the Vols slugged their way to a 18-5 series clinching run-rule victory over Auburn on Sunday afternoon.

It marked Tennessee’s third straight series victory and its second straight series victory despite dropping the series opener.

Here’s everything to know about the series finale.

An Explosive Second Inning

Tennessee fell behind 3-0 in the first inning. It was a bad start to a critical series finale. But with the Vols’ explosive offense there was no need to panic.

The Vols’ first four batters all reached base with the fourth one being a bases loaded walk by Dean Curley to get Tennessee on the board. After a Reese Chapman strikeout, Cal Stark turned in the biggest swing of the game. Stark hit a towering grand slam to left field to give Tennessee a 5-3 lead.

But Tennessee wasn’t done either. Second baseman Christian Moore made it back-to-back long balls with a solo homer to center field. It marked Moore’s 40th home run, moving him just one long ball behind Blake Burke for the program record.

Dylan Dreiling added a double and scored on a fielding error on a hard hit Dalton Bargo single two at-bats later.

The Vols were in a tough spot early and their offense immediately answered. They weren’t done but the second inning broke things open for Tennessee.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of  Tennessee’s Series Finale Win Against Auburn  

Have Yourself A Day Cal Stark

Tennessee catcher Cal Stark entered the Sunday series finale hitting .229 with two home runs, one double and six RBIs this season. While Stark’s bat hadn’t been great he was making his 13th start behind the plate this season because of how good he is defensively and working with Tennessee’s pitchers.

But Stark changed the series rubber match with his bat on Sunday afternoon. He had the previously mentioned massive swing in the second inning that gave Tennessee a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

Tennessee’s backstop wasn’t done there. Just an inning later he mashed a no doubt three-run homer over the green monster in left field that extended the Vols lead to 10-3.

Stark went three-of-three at the plate with two home runs, a double, a hit-by pitch and seven RBIs. He matched his previous number of home runs on the season and exceeded his previous number of RBIs on the season.

The senior’s defense had already made him Tennessee’s most used backstop in SEC play. Stark becoming even solid at the plate would be a huge plus for the Vols. He was more than solid. He was their best hitter on Sunday.

Sechrist To Snead On The Mound

Tennessee baseball went to its go-to Sunday pitching combination against Auburn. Senior left-handed pitcher Zander Sechrist served as the opener and things started poorly for him.

The first three Auburn at-bats of the game— single, single, three-run home run. But then Sechrist was good from there, retiring the final six batters he faced afterwards. It wasn’t nearly as good as his start last week against Georgia but in a game where Tennessee’s offense was elite, Sechrist did his job.

After two innings, Sechrist handed the ball off to Snead. The Wichita State pitcher turned in another good outing as he continues to be Tennessee’s top pitcher in SEC play.

Snead allowed just five hits and two runs in four innings while striking out three batters. The tall right-handed pitcher wasn’t perfect but he was plenty good for the Vols to run-rule Auburn to clinch the series.

LHP Andrew Behnke came in to pitch the seventh inning and retired the side in order while making his return to the mound for the first time since the Alabama series.

Box Score

Up Next

Tennessee returns to Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Tuesday evening where they’ll face Alabama A&M in a midweek bout. First pitch is at 6 p.m. ET and the SEC Network+ is streaming the game.

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