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MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2005
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Tennessee curve balls slow down AU bats

By Bradley Handwerger
DAILY Sports Writer

bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

AUBURN — For the second time in three days, Auburn lost to a pitcher who went the distance as Tennessee's James Adkins held off the Tigers for a 7-2 win at Plainsman Park on Sunday.

Adkins (4-1) gave up both runs on eight hits and made it through all nine innings despite striking out only three batters. He threw 127 pitches, about half of which Auburn head coach Tom Slater said were breaking balls.

"We knew going in that Adkins was a breaking-ball guy," Slater said. "It's not like it's something we don't work on. Sometimes when it's good, it's good and there's nothing you can do about it."

Auburn (16-7, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) fell behind the Vols (16-5, 2-1) in the second when Chase Headley, who went 3 for 4 with a home run and two doubles, sent a Josh Blake pitch over the left-center wall.

Blake (2-2) went three innings and gave up three runs on four hits.

Tennessee took a 3-0 lead an inning later when Josh Alley scored on an error by Auburn catcher Josh Bell. One batter later, Eric King came across home plate when Eli Iorg singled to right.

The Tigers came back in the bottom half of the third to close the gap to 3-1 when Tyler Johnstone drove home Philip Stringer, who doubled to left to lead off the inning.

Again Auburn fell behind by three runs when Tennessee's Iorg scored on Michael Rivera's infield single to short.

The Tigers pulled to within 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth when Clete Thomas scored from first base on Karl Amonite's double to the right-field wall.

After scoring a run in the eighth, Tennessee put the game away when three of the first four batters of the ninth doubled. Alley and King both came across home plate to give the Vols a comfortable five-run lead.

Auburn was the only SEC West team not to win its series during the opening weekend of conference play.

"The top of our lineup was OK," Slater said. "The bottom of the order got better. Overall, we pitched extremely well the whole weekend. I'm very happy with our Friday and Saturday performances on the mound."

The Tigers next face Georgia Tech on Tuesday in Atlanta. Fox Sports Net South will televise the game at 6 p.m.

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