NASHVILLE-- With a possible berth into next week's Southeastern Conference Tournament at stake, Vanderbilt welcomes rival Tennessee to Hawkins Field this weekend for a three-game series beginning Friday at 7:05 p.m. The series continues Saturday at 6:06 p.m., and concludes Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Friday and Sunday's games will be broadcasted on WNSR 560 AM while Saturday's contest will be televised on Comcast Sports Southeast.
For the first time since the SEC adjusted its qualifications for entry into the league tournament in 1999 the Commodores are vying for a postseason berth. The SEC Tournament sends invitations to the top two teams in each division as well as four of the remaining eight squads with the best conference win percentage. Possibilities remain for Vanderbilt to earn a berth by either finishing as the second-best team in the SEC East or as one of the four wild card squads.
Despite losing five of their last six conference games, the Commodores are in fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division two games behind second-place Tennessee and a half game behind third-place Florida. The Commodores have won seven of their last nine home conference games - all against ranked foes.
Tennessee comes to Nashville having won its last six games and five of its last six league contests.
Vanderbilt sophomore southpaw Jeremy Sowers (6-4, 2.30 ERA) will take the mound for the final time in the regular season on Friday. Tennessee will counter with junior right-hander Brandon Crowe (4-1, 5.50 ERA). Saturday's contest will feature Commodore junior right-hander Robert Ransom (3-3, 4.77 ERA) against UT junior lefty Ben Riley (3-5, 3.27 ERA). The series finale has freshman left-hander Ryan Mullins (3-7, 3.76 ERA) pitching for Vanderbilt. Tennessee will send junior southpaw Derek Tharpe (6-5, 3.52 ERA) to the hill.
Vanderbilt's SEC Tournament Scenarios
If Vanderbilt sweeps Tennessee AND Florida loses to Kentucky at least once, the Commodores qualify for the SEC Tournament.
If Vanderbilt sweeps Tennessee AND Florida sweeps Kentucky THEN Alabama must lose two of three to Mississippi St., OR Arkansas must lose all three to LSU for the Commodores to qualify.
If Vanderbilt wins two of three over Tennessee AND Florida loses at least twice to Kentucky AND Alabama is swept by Mississippi St. AND LSU keeps the top seed by winning at least one game against Arkansas, the Commodores qualify based on a 2-1 series win over LSU (Alabama lost 2-1).
Noting the Tennessee Series
Tennessee owns a 144-132-3 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1888... Tennessee owns a 32-13 lead in the series since 1990... Tennessee has won the last three series... Vanderbilt last took two of three from UT in 1999 in Nashville. The last time Vanderbilt earned a three-game sweep of Tennessee came in 1989 in Nashville... Ten of the last 12 meetings have been decided by four runs or less, including three extra-inning contests.