Tide-Vandy Battle Of Cellar-Dwellers

Many years ago when Vanderbilt was frequently an early season football opponent for Alabama, the feeling was that if the Crimson Tide was off to a poor start that there was nothing better to cure the ails than a game against the Commodores. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true in baseball.



Alabama baseball has struggled this season. Bama is only 14-24 and just 4-11 in Southeastern Conference play. The Tide has lost four of its last five games, including having been swept at LSU and even more discouraging having split a doubleheader with Mississippi Valley, a team Alabama had beaten 16 consecutive games before losing in the second game of a Wednesday doubleheader to the Delta Devils.

This weekend Alabama welcomes Vanderbilt to Sewell-Thomas Stadium for a three-game Southeastern Conference series. First pitch for Friday night's series opener is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CDT. Game two on Saturday is scheduled for 2:05 p.m., and Sunday's game starts at 1:05 p.m.

Vanderbilt is not great. The Commodores are 17-10 overall and 6-9 in SEC games.

The series is a battle of teams that are sixth – last -- in their SEC divisions.

To say that Alabama's pitching rotation for Coach Mitch Gaspard is still evolving is an understatement. This weekend Bama will go with freshman right-hander Spender Turnbull, who has a 1-3 record and 6.44 earned run average, in the Friday opener. The Commodores will go with sophomore righty T.J. Pecararo. He has no record in five games (one previous start) but a 3.00 ERA.

On Saturday the Tide will send freshman left-hander Taylor Guilbeau (3-2, 5.23 ERA) against Vandy freshman right-hander Tyler Beede (1-4, 4.64) and on Sunday it will be Bama's freshman left-hander Jon Keller (1-2, 4.19) against Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek, a sophomore left-hander who is 3-6 with a 4.91 ERA.

For Alabama, freshman Ben Moore leads the Tide with a .341 batting average and is ninth in the conference with a .347 average in SEC play. After going 3-for-6 in the doubleheader versus MVSU, Taylor Dugas is second on the team with a .336 average. He leads the team with 18 walks and 15 HBP for a team-high .460 on-base percentage. Dugas has an SEC leading five triples this season, and holds the school record with 16 career triples. With his 10th double of the season on Wednesday, he has 65 career doubles to pass Dave Magadan for the school record in doubles. Jared Reaves is tied with Brett Booth for the team lead with three home runs, is second on the team with 22 RBI – behind Booth's team-leading 25 – and third with a .315 average.

Vanderbilt comes to Tuscaloosa after winning four of its last five games. Vandy won its second SEC series of the season last week after winning two of three games against Auburn. Alabama's only SEC series win this year was also against Auburn as the Tide swept the Tigers.

The Commodores are hitting .272 as a team, while averaging 5.7 runs and 9.0 hits per game. The VU pitching staff has a 4.30 ERA in 328.2 innings pitched, while allowing a .252 opponent's batting average.

Shortstop Anthony Gomez leads the team with a .362 batting average, which is fifth best in the SEC. Gomez also leads the team with 33 RBI, is third in runs scored (21) and fourth in doubles (6). Mike Yastrzemski his hitting .301 for the season and has three of the team's 13 home runs to lead the squad.

In a series that dates back to 1893, the three-game SEC series between Alabama and Vanderbilt will mark games 137-139. Alabama holds an 84-50-2 record all-time versus the Commodores.

Alabama has a four-game road schedule next week that includes a mid-week game at Samford on Tuesday, followed by a three-game SEC series at No. 6 South Carolina. The Tide travels to Birmingham to take on the Bulldogs at 6 p.m., at Joe Lee Griffin Field. UA returns to SEC play on Thursday night with game one of the series against the Gamecocks. The game will be televised on ESPNU beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT. The series wraps up with a 6 p.m. CT, game on Friday night and a 12:30 p.m. CT, start on Saturday.

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