Baseball: Vandy visits Auburn

Vanderbilt's first week of SEC baseball 2015 was a success as the Commodores pulled off a series sweep over Arkansas. Now the 'Dores head south to Auburn for the first road conference series of the season. Look inside for a scouting report of the Tigers and Commodores.

No. 4 Vanderbilt at Auburn

Friday (6:00 p.m., SEC Network+)
RHP Carson Fulmer (3-0, 1.91) vs. RHP Keegan Thompson (3-2, 4.11 ERA)

Saturday (7 p.m., ESPNU)
RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 1.50) vs. RHP Trey Wingenter (1-1, 3.24 ERA)

Sunday (1 p.m., SEC Network+)
RHP Jordan Sheffield (3-0, 1.75 ERA) vs. RHP Rocky McCord (1-1, 2.67)


ABOUT VANDERBILT

The defending National Champion Vanderbilt Commodores (17-4, 3-0 SEC) opened their SEC season with a sweep of Arkansas. Vandy had to rally from four runs down in the ninth inning to win the first game of a Saturday double header 8-7. The Commodores then dominated game two on Saturday, 9-1. On Sunday it was a pitching duel as Jordan Sheffield pitched seven solid innings while Philip Pfeifer picked up the win in relief. Junior Rhett Wiseman went 10-for-19 (.526) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, seven runs scored and eight RBI last week and earned SEC Player of the Week honors.

Vanderbilt as a team is batting at a .314 average (2nd in SEC) and has scored an average of 7.29 runs per game. .

Right fielder Rhett Wiseman (.430, 19 RBIs) has been Vanderbilt's most consistent hitter. Wiseman leads the squad in homers with four and was selected as the SEC Player of the Week after the Arkansas series. Short stop Dansby Swanson .381 is the 'Dores top base stealing threat with 10 successful steals in 11 attempts. Local fan favorite, Zander Wiel (.342, 21 RBIs), is a powerful hitter who is a threat to knock the ball out of the park every time he is at bat. Wiel currently leads the team in RBIs and walks. Left fielder Bryan Reynolds (.306, 16 RBIs) and third baseman freshman Will Toffey (.254, 12 RBIs) round out the top Commodore hitting threats.

Vanderbilt leads the SEC in combined staff strikeouts with 213 and is second in opposing bating average (.191). The Commodores are sixth in the conference ERA at 2.71.

Righty Carson Fulmer (3-0, 1.91) was a closer early in the 2014 season but moved into a starting pitcher position later in the season and excelled. He finished the season with a 7-1 record and 1.98 ERA. Last week against Arkansas, Fulmer had one of the worst outings of his career. He gave up a career-high five runs on five hits over six innings.

Junior righty Walker Buehler (1-0, 1.50) will take the mound for the 'Dores on Saturday. Buehler seems to be getting back to his normal self after an injury limited his action earlier in the season. Last week in a 9-1 win over Arkansas Buehler struck out seven and allowed just one earned run on four hits in six innings of work.

Redshirt freshman right hander Jordan Sheffield will man the mound on Sunday. Sheffield has suddenly emerged as another Commodore pitching jewel. Last week he allowed just two hits and struck out four as he pitched seven scoreless innings in 1-0 win over the Razorbacks. Some national college baseball analysts are already touting Sheffield as Vandy's best pitcher.

Vandy's bullpen is in its usual great shape with players like Ryan Johnson (2-0, 1.85), Philip Pfeifer (2-1, 1.19), lefty John Kilichowski (1-0, 3.43) and Kyle Wright (1-0, 2.04). Ben Bowden (3-1, 1.32) looks to be the closest thing to closer for the 'Dores. He has 23 strikeouts in just 13 innings pitched.

ABOUT AUBURN

Auburn (14-7) was swept at Texas A&M by a combined score of 22-7 last weekend. The Tigers have some sweeps of their own this season. The Tigers dispatched Xavier three games to none the weekend before the A&M series. Auburn also has a 3-game sweep over Radford and a series win over Binghamton. Most recently the Tigers defeated UAB in a midweek game 6-4 in a game in which Auburn out-hit the Blazers 10-7.

Auburn as a team bats .288, good for eighth best in the league. The Tigers are fifth in the conference in doubles with 39 and sixth in on-base percentage at .380.

Centerfielder Anfernee Grier (.415, 7 RBI) is Auburn's top threat with a bat. Grier had five hits in the team's recent series at Texas A&M. Cody Nulph (.354, 13 RBI) has a .500 slugging percentage has a pair of home runs. Right fielder Sam Gillikin (.317, 4 RBI) is second on the team in times struck out with 14. Catcher Logan Blake (.308, 15 RBI) leads the team in RBIs. Jordan Ebert (.257, 13 RBI) leads the Tigers in home runs with three.

Auburn's pitching staff has allowed combined ERA of 3.57, tenth best in the SEC. Tiger pitchers have struck out 184 batters this season, a not too shabby sixth in the SEC. However, Auburn is next to last in the SEC in hits allowed (175) just two hits ahead of last place Mississippi State. Sophomore righty Keegan Thompson (3-2, 4.11) allowed 10 hits in seven innings work last Friday night at Texas A&M. Thompson struck out four but also allowed four walks in the 6-2 loss. Another righty, Trey Wingenter was thrown into the fire on on Sunday. The tall (6-7) junior gave up six hits, a walk and four runs before being pulled with one out in the sixth. This week Wingenter will pitch on Saturday. Senior right-handed pitcher Rocky McCord (1-1, 2.67) pitched for the Tigers on Saturday at A&M. McCord lasted just 4.1 innings before being pulled. McCord walked five and gave up five hits on the way to a 10-4 loss. He finished with a pair of walks.

Justin Camp (1.0, 1.46 ERA)is the Tiger's top relief pitcher. Camp has four saves and 20 strikeouts.

SEC STANDINGS
EAST CONF GB ALL
VAN 3-0 -- 17-4
USC 3-0 -- 17-4
MIZ 3-0 -- 16-4
FLA 2-1 1 19-3
TEN 1-2 2 9-8
KEN 0-3 3 13-7
GEO 0-3 3 12-9
--- --- -- ---
WEST CONF GB ALL
TAM 3-0 -- 22-0
LSU 2-1 1 19-2
ALA 2-1 1 12-7
MSU 1-2 2 17-6
OLM 1-2 2 10-9
AUB 0-3 3 14-7
ARK 0-3 3 10-8


SEC THIS WEEK

Vanderbilt at Auburn
Georgia at Tennessee
Mississippi St at Kentucky
South Carolina at Missouri
Florida at Ole Miss
Texas A&M at Alabama
LSU at Arkansas (Thursday-Saturday)

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