For one night, at least, Tennessee baseball enjoyed a reprieve from doom and gloom.
A .205 hitter delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single in the first inning.
A pitcher whose work has been better than the record he bears stifled Auburn with a no-hitter for four innings and delivered seven quality innings.
Another two-out hit in the seventh plated a couple of welcome insurance runs.
And finally, coach Todd Raleigh's "hunch" decision in filling out his lineup card paid off on the game-ending defensive play.
Virtually everything clicked Thursday night in a 5-2 win over Auburn at Lindsey Nelson Stadium to snap an 11-game SEC losing streak.
"This last home series, we're playing for the seniors,'' said sophomore Drew Steckenrider who provided heroics both early and late.
The Vols (24-28, 6-22 SEC) had last won an SEC game on April 22 against Georgia. They had since been swept by Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and LSU to lose any hope of extending the season into the SEC tournament.
If Auburn (28-26, 13-15) thought it was going to get a sweep to emerge from a four-way tie atop the SEC West, it will have to think again.
Game two is tonight at 6.
Steven Gruver (5-7) got a well-deserved victory for the Vols, allowing five hits in 7 1/3 innings. The Tigers couldn't touch him until a bloop single in the fifth.
"Nothing was perfect,'' said Gruver. "I had to battle. I got behind on some counts but I worked through and I found it. That was the biggest thing.''
The biggest hit was the first one.
Auburn's Jon Luke Jacobs (1-4) walked two of the first three Vols he faced, Kayan Norfork and Charlie Thurber.
With two outs, Steckenrider, the .205 hitter who spent most of the season as a pitcher before unlimbering his bat in the past month, lined a single to left scoring both runners.
Davis Morgan then followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0.
"It was awesome,'' said Steckenrider, "my first big hit this season since I've been hitting.
"Coach (Raleigh) pulled me aside and told me they weren't going to come at me with fastballs. The second pitch was a change-up away, just like Coach said.''
The way the season has played out, Gruver could hardly believe his good fortune to have a 3-0 lead.
"It just takes all the pressure off my shoulders,'' Gruver said.
The pressure was tightening again as Auburn got back to 3-2. But Morgan came through again, with a two-out, two-RBI single in the seventh.
Then Steckenrider, who was playing the DH role, came to the mound and pitched out of a jam in the top of the eighth.
Auburn loaded the bases in the ninth against three UT pitchers, and all three runners were off to the races when Craig McElroy sent a two-out shot to deep center field.
Josh Liles, given the start in center over freshman Andrew Toles (who had started 49 games) ran the ball down to end the game.
"It comes down to the last play of the game,'' said Raleigh, "and Josh made a great jump on it. We just played a hunch on it.''
It was that kind of night, for a change.