Vanderbilt baseball travels to Florida

No. 18 Vanderbilt visits Florida in a conference battle that has significant post-season tourney seeding implications. The winner of this three game battle of SEC baseball heavyweights will be in position for very favorable seeding in both the SEC and NCAA tourneys.

No. 18 Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 Florida

Thursday (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
RHP Tyler Beede (7-5, 3.60) vs. RHP Logan Shore (6-2, 1.62)

Friday (6 p.m.)
RHP Carson Fulmer (2-1, 1.35 ERA) vs. TBA

Saturday (11 a.m., FSN)
RHP Tyler Ferguson (6-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. RHP Karsten Whitson (1-0, 3.30)


ABOUT VANDERBILT

A rejuvenated Vanderbilt team (36-13, 14-10) continued to surge in the SEC sweeping Missouri on the road last weekend. A high scoring Tuesday night affair against a top 20 Louisville squad finally ended the 'Dores winning streak at seven. The outcome of the last two conference series (at Florida, host South Carolina) of the season could have a tremendous affect on Vandy's post season outlook. First up this week are the Gators.

Vanderbilt's team batting average is .281 (opponents .198) with a 2.56 ERA (opponents 4.62 versus Vandy).

Dansby Swanson (.351, 23 RBI) leads Vanderbilt in hits with 66. Vince Conde (.311, 35 RBI) had a grand slam against the Cardinals on Tuesday. Conde leads the 'Dores in walks with 27. Bryan Reynolds (.321, 36 RBI) leads the 'Dores in RBIs and doubles (19). He had three hits including a home run on Friday night against Missouri. Catcher Jason Delay (.329, 12 RBI) Finished the week going 4 for 6 with two doubles. Xavier Turner (.304, 28 RBI) had two hits in Vandy's sweep clinching Sunday win over Missouri. Rhett Wiseman (.240, 21 RBI), John Norwood (.277, 17 RBI) and Zander Wiel (.263, 23 RBI) are some of Vandy other key batters.

Vanderbilt continues to lead the SEC in combined staff strikeouts with 439. The Commodore staff leads the league in opposing bating average (.195) and Vandy is the only team in the conference with a sub .200 average. Junior RHP Tyler Beede (7-5, 3.60 ERA) seems to have returned to the normal self. Last weekend at Missouri he struck out seven. Beede was drafted in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011. Beede leads his team starters in strikeouts with 76.

Righty Carson Fulmer (3-1, 1.17 ERA) was the Vandy closer for much of the season but is now 3-0 as a regular starter. Last weekend Fulmer struck out three in six innings against the Tigers in Columbia.

Sophomore RHP Tyler Ferguson (6-3, 2.87 ERA) was drafted in the 40th round by the San Francisco Giants in 2012. Last weekend at Mizzou he pitched 3 2/3rd inning on Sunday allowing two hits while striking out five, however, he didn't earn a victory.

Brian Miller (1-0, 0.68 ERA) has re-emerged as the Commodore closer. Last weekend he added another save to his tally of career saves. Miller, who has struck out 23 batters this season, now has 25 careers saves. Adam Ravenelle (3-0, 0.98 ERA), Hayden Stone (1-0, 0.74 ERA) and former starter Jared Miller (6-1, 3.95 ERA) are the 'Dores most active players out of the bullpen. Ravenelle earned a win on Sunday in relief of Ferguson.

ABOUT FLORIDA

No. 4 ranked Florida (33-16, 18-6) is coming off a series sweep at Alabama and lost a midweek game on Tuesday to Mercer, 4-2. The Bama sweep was the Gator's third straight sweep and fourth straight series win. The Gators have 2-1 series wins over Arkansas and South Carolina and sweeps over LSU, Georgia, Missouri and the Tide. The Gator's only series losses have been 2-1 encounters with Kentucky and Texas A&M.

Florida as a team bats .271 while opposing teams have a .252 average versus the Gators. Gator pitchers have an overall 3.23 ERA while opponents have a 4.08 ERA versus the Tigers.

Florida is 10th in the conference in batting average, 13th on-base percentage (.350) and 11th in runs scored (237). Taylor Gushue (.322, 41 RBI) leads the Gators hits (58), RBI, doubles (13) and home runs (5). Peter Alonso (.287, 25 RBI) has three home runs this season and had three hits including a homer in the Gator's Sunday win over Alabama. Richie Martin (.280, 22 RBI) is the Gators top base thief stealing successfully on 14 of 16 attempts. Casey Turgeon (.263, 29 RBI) leads the team in walks with 24. Braden Mattson (.278, 20 RBI), Buddy Reed (.226, 5 RBI) and designated hitter Mike Fahrman (.235, 4 RBI) are some of the other top Gator batters.

Pitching wise the Gators are 10th in the league in opponent batting average and ninth in ERA (3.21). However, the Gators have found a way to win, and win often in the SEC.

Right-handed Logan Shore (6-2, 1.62) will duel Vandy's Beede in a Thursday night battle. Shore has 44 strikeouts and has allowed 60 hits in his 11 starts. Shore, a Minnesota native, was drafted by the TWins in the 29th round of the MLB draft in 2013.

Friday night's starter for the Gators will be announced near game time. Tyler Ferguson and the heralded Karsten Whitson will face off on Saturday night. In 2011 the left-handed Whitson earned National Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors. Vandy faced him and the Gators in the 2011 College World Series and came away with a 3-1 loss as Whitson struck out five in a no decision for him. A.J. Puk is a candidate to pitch on Friday. Last week Puk earned a win on Saturday after striking out two and walking two in 2 2/3 innings. Lefty Danny Young (5-0, 2.45 ERA) is another Gator player that might end up facing Carson Fulmer on Friday. Young helped pitch the Gators to a win over Florida State earlier in the season. Last year at Vandy he allowed no hits in two relief appearances against the No. 2 'Dores in Music City.

Righty Ryan Harris (2-1, 2.37 ERA) leads the Gators in saves with five. He's got 16 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. Dane Dunning (RHP, 1-0, 5.30 ERA), Aaron Rhodes (RHP, 5-2, 2.48 ERA), Justin Shafer (RHP, 0-0, 4.76 ERA) and Eric Hanhold (RHP, 3-3, 4.60 ERA) are other Gator pitchers to watch.
SEC STANDINGS

EAST	CONF	GB	ALL

FLA	18-6	--	33-16
VAN	14-10	4	36-13
USC	13-11	5	35-13
TEN	10-14	8	28-18
KEN	10-14	8	28-19
GEO	 9-14	8.5 	23-23
MIZ	 6-18	12 	20-27

WEST	CONF	GB	ALL

OLM	15-9	--	35-14
MSU	14-10	1	31-18
LSU	13-10   1.5	35-13
ALA	13-11	2	31-18
TAM	12-12	3	30-19
ARK	11-13	4	30-20
AUB  	 9-15	6	26-23
SEC THIS WEEK

Vanderbilt at Florida
Alabama at LSU
Missouri at South Carolina
Georgia at Ole Miss
Auburn at Kentucky
Texas A&M at Arkansas
Tennessee at Mississippi State

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