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Beck’s HR, Joyce’s fastball power Vols past Auburn, 5-3

Dingers and flame throwers — just another day at the office for Tennessee baseball

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jordan Beck’s eighth-inning, two-run home run and four (!!!) shut-out innings from Ben Joyce proved to be the difference in Tennessee’s 5-3 win against Auburn Sunday.

Auburn’s starter Joseph Gonzalez held the UT lineup to three runs and six hits through seven innings, but the Vols finally got to him in the bottom of the eighth. Luc Lipcius singled right before Beck took a 2-2 breaking ball all the way out of the ball park for his 12th HR of the season.

Beck took a moment to admire that one, and I don’t blame him.

Beck’s dinger broke the 3-3 tie, so it’s the game winner, but a surprisingly-lengthy appearance from Ben Joyce deserves mention and credit, too.

Joyce tossed four scoreless innings in relief of starter Drew Beam and allowed just one hit over 12 batters. He struck out six, and, oh yeah, before I forget, he threw the fastest pitch ever recorded in the history of college baseball during the seventh inning, according to the official Tennessee baseball Twitter account.

I guess the media relation folks didn’t get that specific pitch on video, because the clip is of Joyce’s inning-ending strikeout that came on a changeup.

Joyce has been an internet sensation all season, and I’m sure his 105.5 MPH pitch will just fan those flames further. But the duration of his outing is what’s really impressive to me, as his longest outing of the season prior to Sunday was just two innings. Now, Tony Vitello has said in the past that the staff could stretch Joyce out to starter distance, but there’s a difference between talking about it and just letting him rip it for double the length of any previous appearance.

Here are official speeds on Joyce’s fastballs from Sunday, via 247’s Wes Rucker:

Joyce’s appearance was all that more crucial since Drew Beam’s effectiveness tailed off near the end of his outing. Beam was perfect through three innings and struck out four of the first nine batters he faced, but the middle of the Tigers’ lineup got to him on its second trip to the plate. Saturday’s hero Bobby Peirce hit a solo home run and then the next three batters each hit singles. Beam got two flyouts to get out of the inning, but the first one of those scored a run.

Tennessee’s freshman starter walked the first two batters of the sixth before Vitello brought in Joyce.

The bats gave Beam an early cushion, as a double from Lipcius and a single from Jordan Beck provided Drew Gilbert the chance to hit a run-scoring sac fly. Two pitches later, Trey Lipscomb hit his second HR of the series 19th of the season.

The offense got nothing in between those runs in the first and Beck’s home run in the eighth, but one doesn’t need any margin for error if one doesn’t make any errors. Joyce didn’t.

The win Sunday won the series for the Vols, as they sandwiched Saturday’s loss inside two dubs. Tennessee still hasn’t lost an SEC series this year, and it heads to Lexington for three games next weekend. The Wildcats are 24-20 overall and just 7-14 in the SEC.

Alabama A&M will be in town prior to that, on Tuesday May 3rd, for the midweek game.