Tide Faces No. 1 Vanderbilt Baseball

With a 13-13 Southeastern Conference record for Alabama baseball this year, and with No. 1 ranked Vanderbilt on the radar, it may not seem that the Crimson Tide had much schedule luck. But the truth is, the Tide's wins were forged primarily against the lesser lights of the SEC. From at least one standpoint, though, things are good.

Alabama, which has an overall record of 32-22, does not have to do anything against Vanderbilt (46-6 overall and 24-2 in SEC play) to get into next week's SEC Tournament at the Hoover Met. It is even known already that Bama will be playing on the first day of the SEC Tournament next Tuesday. All the Crimson Tide is playing fore in Nashville is its seed and to determine its first game opponent in the single elimination tournament that runs through Sunday, May 26.

That is not to say that Coach Mitch Gaspard's Alabama team would not like to do well against the Commodores; just that there is no added pressure. The series gets underway Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CDT at Hawkins Field. The teams meet again on Friday at 6:30 and finish the series at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Alabama has won five SEC series this year. Those wins were against the three bottom teams in the Eastern Division (Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia) and against the two teams in the West that rank below Bama (Texas A&M and Auburn). Bama is playing the number one team in the East in Vandy (which has already clinched the regular season championship) and did not play number two South Carolina, number three Florida, or number four Kentucky.

Vanderbilt is the consensus number one team in the country heading into the final week of the regular season. The Commodores have won their last 13 SEC weekend series dating back to last season

Alabama will start senior right-handed pitcher Charley Sullivan (5-4 with a 3.06 earned run average) on Thursday and right-hander Spencer Turnbull on Friday. The Tide has not yet announced its Saturday starting pitcher. Vanderbilt will start right-handed freshman Walker Buehler (3-1, 2.45) on Thursday, left-hander Kevin Ziomek on Friday and righty Tyler Beede on Saturday.

Vanderbilt's Tony Kemp leads the team and the SEC with a .411 batting average. With his sixth triple of the season on Tuesday, he tied the SEC career record with 21 career triples. Mike Yaztrzemski leads the team with a .402 average during SEC play, while hitting .326 for the season. Connor Harrell leads the team with 10 home run and 57 RBI, with a .316 average. Tyler Beede has been one of the top pitchers in the SEC all season, posting a 13-0 record with a 1.73 ERA.

When Alabama and Vanderbilt meet this weekend, it will mark games 140-142 in the all-time series. In a series that dates back to 1893, Alabama holds an 86-51-2 record against the Commodores. In the most recent series, Alabama won two of three games when the team played in Tuscaloosa during the 2012 campaign. In the last meeting in Nashville, the No. 1 ranked Commodores swept the Tide in 2011. In the last four series against Vandy, Alabama is 7-5, which included a sweep of the Commodores in Nashville in 2009.

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