The "Circle of Life" played over the stadium speakers, one fan yelled, “Uh oh,” and Lindsey Nelson Stadium erupted in applause. These were the signs that Jordan Beck was stepping up to the plate.
The right fielder has been fearless against some of the best pitchers in the SEC, and Saturday night was no different.
Beck, deemed “Mike Honcho” by Tony Vitello and Tennessee fans, was the driving force yet again behind the Vols' 9-2 win over No. 24 Alabama Saturday night.
After a deflating first inning where pitcher Chase Dollander was nailed by a line drive and head coach Tony Vitello and pitching coach Frank Anderson were thrown out of the game, the Vols needed a spark. Beck gave them just that, sending a ball over the center field wall to drive in Jorel Oretega and himself.
“That’s kind of what we preach here, controlling your emotions,” Beck said. “If you let your emotions get the best of you, it probably won’t be a good outcome. It was just kind of the next deal for us and I’m glad we competed the way we did.”
In the sixth inning, Alabama’s Zane Denton hit a two-run home run to make it just a one-run game and the Tide was knocking on the door.
Beck once again came up big for the Vols, hitting his second home run of the game on a solo shot to left center. Beck’s lead-off homer sparked a big inning for Tennessee, as it was followed up by a solo-homer by Luc Lipcius and another run brought in by a wild pitch.
“That things huge,” assistant coach and acting head coach Josh Elander said. “The guy’s a big leaguer, he’s a super star and great kid."
For Beck, this series means a little bit more than others. He is a native of Hazel Geen, Alabama, just a few hours away from Alabama’s campus.
“He’s from Alabama so this is one he’s had circled for a long time,” Elander said. “It’s great to see him take some good swings.”
While Beck knows he might have some friends at home pulling against him this weekend, he also recognizes the target Tennessee has on its back as a top ranked team.
“This is a big weekend for me. Not only me, but the team too,” Beck said. “We’re the No. 1 team and we’ve got a number on our back and a big target. We’ve got to compete every night. I definitely enjoy this and hopefully we can get another one tomorrow.”
Beck and the rest of the Vols did not let their emotions get the best of them Saturday, but they did embrace the situation and feed of off the energy of the crowd.
“I think that’s just kind of what you live for as an athlete,” Beck said. “The crowd was into it, the environment was fun, your adrenaline is going through the roof. For me that’s just one of the fun moments you get in sports and I’m just glad it turned out the way it did.”
After dropping Friday night’s game and facing their first SEC loss of the season, the Vols were able to respond Saturday, a big moment that isn’t lost among the team. Now the Vols will look to clinch the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I love to see some resiliency in our team and I’m just glad to be a part of it,” Beck said. “We’ve got a great group of guys and it’s fun to win.”