Beck’s Long Ball Pushes Tennessee Past Auburn In Series Rubber Match

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Tennessee stayed perfect in weekend series on the season, using an eighth inning Jordan Beck bomb to knock off No. 19 Auburn, 5-3.

Both starting pitchers were good but not great as three home runs pushed the bulk of the offensive output.

Here’s everything to know about the series finale.

Tennessee Jumps Out To Early Lead

Sunday’s series finale was Tennessee’s second series rubber match in conference play. The Vols played extremely well in their series clinching win over Alabama. When you combine it with Tennessee being a great team and its obvious eagerness to get revenge for Saturday’s loss and it was easy to be confident that the Vols would come out fast.

“I think we’re all ready to come out here at one o’clock is all I can say,” Tennessee reliever Camden Sewell said Saturday. “We’re pretty juiced to come out tomorrow.”

However, Auburn starter Joseph Gonzalez (1.71 ERA) is the Tigers’ best pitcher and has been lights out this season.

The Vols showed their excitement to be back on the field early, scoring a trio of runs in the first inning to take the lead.

Moving into the two-hole after earning the golden sombrero in game two, Luc Lipcius beat the shift with a one-out double down the left field line.

Jordan Beck moved him to third via single and Drew Gilbert brought him home with a sac fly to center field.

SEC home run leader Trey Lipscomb expanded his lead and the Vols lead with a line drive home run that fought through the wind to hit the video board in right field.

Gonzalez settled in after the first, but the Vols came out the gates like gangbusters to take the lead.

Inverse Starting Pitching Performances

Tennessee got to Joseph Gonzalez early, but the sophomore pitcher settled in and was fantastic afterwards.

Working extremely efficiently, Gonzales allowed just one hit in the next four innings and had allowed just three hits since the first inning when Jordan Beck ended his day with a no doubt home run.

With Auburn’s bullpen heavily taxed the first two games of the series, the right-handed pitcher pushing through was massive.

Tennessee starter Drew Beam looked flawless at the jump of Sunday’s game, striking out a pair in the first inning on his way to retiring the first 10 batters he faced.

Things started to slip in the fifth inning when Bobby Peirce opened the inning with a solo blast. After retiring the next batter, three straight Tigers singled to load the bases. 

Beam preserved Tennessee’s lead as Auburn added just one more run on back-to-back fly outs.

It was slightly surprising that Beam came back out to pitch the sixth inning after his fifth inning struggles and shocking that he stayed in after surrendering back-to-back walks to open the inning.

Peirce delivered for Auburn again, taking an 0-2 breaking ball into left field to tie the game and end Beam’s day.

“It was close,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “We were fortunate, you got a green light Sonny (DiChiaro) with a 3-0 count, not a phenomenal swing and then he (Beam) had looked good against Peirce. I believe we got to two strikes. You’re kind of hoping to get that guy out and I was going to have to make the call if we were going to Ben or not, but the call was kind of made for us because the ball got squared up.”

Joyce Dominates In High Leverage Moments

Tennessee reliever Ben Joyce has become a household baseball name after lighting up the radar gun all season long.

However, Tony Vitello hasn’t put him in many high leverage situations this seasons as the inexperienced right-handed pitcher gains more-and-more repetitions.

In fact, Joyce relieving Beam in a tie game with a pair of runners on base and nobody out was the highest leverage situation he’s pitched in all season.

The results couldn’t have been any better. Joyce induced a double play on the second pitch he threw and got an ending inning fly out on the next pitch to retire the side in three pitches.

“I know I have a great defense behind me,” Joyce said. “I know they’re going to make plays for me back there so it gives you a lot of confidence as a pitcher to just know you can throw strikes and get a ground ball and have a double play there and then one more to get out of it. Having the confidence in the guys behind me really gives you a lot of confidence as a pitcher.”

From there, Joyce looked absolutely dominant. The redshirt-junior threw a fastball that clocked in at 105.5 mph YakkerTrack — the radar system Tennessee uses for its own data. The scoreboard showed the pitch at 104 mph.

The fastest pitch in college baseball history was just a small part of a dominant outing.

It’s really a historic outing,” Vitello said.

Joyce allowed just one baserunner while earning the win in four innings pitched. It was the Knoxville native’s longest outing of the season and by far his best.

Jordan Beck Delivers

Tennessee right fielder Jordan Beck is going to make a lot of money playing baseball in his life. The right-handed slugger has had impressive power since his freshman season but has grown immensely as a hitter in Knoxville.

The Vols have been reaping the benefits all season and the biggest benefit came in the eighth inning of the series rubber match.

With a runner on first with one-out, Beck fell behind 0-2. The right fielder fouled off the next pitch before laying off a pair of balls, including a 1-2 breaking ball that just missed.

Beck took the sixth pitch of the at-bat 424 feet to left field to give Tennessee the late inning lead.

“I kind of set the up off the previous at-bat. They had fed me all breaking balls,” Beck said. “I was like alright I am going to commit to one pitch here. I swung through one and I was like I am not going to swing through another. I have to focus and keep my head on and I did on the last one.”

It was all Tennessee needed to earn the series victory.

Final Stats

Up Next

Tennessee returns to Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Tuesday for a midweek matchup with Alabama A&M. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. ET and the SEC Network+ will stream the game.

Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.