Senior catcher Blake Austin's two-run double in the first inning was the big blow for the Tigers while closer Terrance Dedrick got the final two outs with the bases loaded in the ninth to secure the win.
Auburn improves to 16-7 overall while the loss drops Tennessee to 18-3 on the season. Jordan Ebert led the Tigers with two hits while Austin and freshman Keegan Thompson drove home runs for Sunny Golloway's team.
Improving to 3-1 in the SEC, the first-year coach was pleased to get the win but noted his team needed to play with more urgency on the road in the SEC.
"Ours guys are playing big right now," Golloway said. "We need to clean up the bullpen a little bit. We had a long talk with them and there are some things we can clean up with them. We've got to do a better job as coaches.
"To walk guys there in the ninth and give them a chance was disappointing," he added. "I just want our guys to understand even when we get the lead early I thought our bats were a little lazy. We've got to have intensity. I challenged our team. Are we here to win a game or are we here to try to win the league?
"I want them to do some soul-searching," the coach added. "Do you want to be just good or do you want to be champions? We're going to have to take a big step if we want to be champions."
Getting the win to improve to 5-1 on the season, Ortman allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings of work and struck out seven. Faced with the challenge of going on the road on a Friday night, the pitcher said he was happy to get out of there with the win and keep the momentum going for his team.
"I felt great," Ortman said. "Tonight it was a little windy and a cold night, but I got through it. I had to deal with some adversity at the beginning a little bit. I don't know how many runners they left on base, but I guarantee you it was a lot.
"My goal was just to stay tough in those situations," he added. "They get runners on and I can't show any weakness. My job is to get these outs. I had a big punch-out there and Blake called a great game also."
Auburn got off a good start with a pair of runs in the first inning off Tennessee starter Nick Williams. With two outs and nobody on, Damek Tomscha worked a walk to give the Tigers life. Taking a swipe at the first pitch he saw, Ryan Tella followed with a single off the glove of the Tennessee first baseman for a hit. With runners on first and second, Austin delivered in a big way with a deep double to right-center. That easily scored Tomscha and Tella to make it 2-0 Auburn.
Blake Austin had a big two-run double for the Tigers in the first inning
Tennessee responded by getting the first two batters on base in the first inning, but Ortman recovered to get the next two hitters before a walk to Vincent Jackson loaded the bases with two outs. With power hitter Christin Stewart at the plate, Ortman coaxed a ground ball to Dan Glevenyak at second. His flip to Damon Haecker at the second base bag ended the inning to keep the Vols off the scoreboard.
With both pitchers cruising, Auburn did not threat again until the fifth inning as a two-out single from Jordan Ebert brought Glevenyak to the plate. Getting hit by a pitch (the 40th of the year for the Tigers), Glevenyak reached first to bring Tomscha to the plate. Deciding not to challenge the red-hot Tomscha with two runners on, Tennessee walked the third baseman to load the bases for Tella. It proved to be the right move as a fly ball from the senior center fielder left the bags full of Tigers.
Getting a lift from escaping danger in the top of the inning, Tennessee would threaten again as back-to-back singles from Taylor Smart and Scott Price with one out put Ortman in trouble again. Following a strikeout, he walked Will Maddox to load the bases with two outs for cleanup hitter Nick Senzel. Bearing down, Ortman got a fly ball to Tella in center field to leave the bases loaded for the Vols.
Hoping to add to its lead in the sixth, Auburn got the leadoff man on board when Austin was hit by a pitch. Following a Daniel Robert fly ball for out number one, Haecker tried to bunt his way aboard but was thrown out at first. However, Austin was able to move into scoring position for Keegan Thompson. Struggling at the plate so far this season, Thompson came through in the clutch with a hard single to left field to score Austin and make it 3-0 Tigers.
Still on cruise control on the mound, Ortman finally ran out of gas in the eighth as back-to-back singles from A.J. Simcox and Maddox brought his day to a close after throwing 109 pitches.
Coming in from the bullpen, Cochran-Gill got a ground ball to Glevenyak at second. Bobbling the ball in an attempt to get the double play, the senior threw to first to get the first out. Getting another ground ball to Glevenyak for out number two to score the runner from third, Cochran-Gill looked like he would get out of the jam by allowing just a single run. Christin Stewart had other ideas though as his single scored Maddox to cut the Auburn lead to a single run heading to the ninth inning.
Auburn had a golden opportunity to add an insurance run in the ninth inning when Haecker led off with a single and stole second to move into scoring position. Moving to third on a ground ball by Thompson, Haecker was left stranded as Connor Short and Ebert both hit ground balls right at the Tennessee third baseman to end the inning. With the momentum on its side Tennessee got a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth off Cochran-Gill to bring Dedrick in to face Taylor Smart.
Getting a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second, Dedrick lost his control and walked the next two hitters to load the bases with one out for the Volunteers. Needing a big play, Dedrick got a ground ball from Maddox to Thompson at first base. Coming up firing, Thompson gunned the ball to Austin at the plate in time for the second out. Facing Senzel with the game on the line, Dedrick got a fly ball to J.J. Shaffer in right field to end the game and secure his second save.
Thompson (4-0) takes the mound for the Tigers on Saturday looking to give Auburn the series win. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. CDT and can be seen on CSS.