Friday (6:00 p.m., SEC Network+)
RHP Carson Fulmer (4-1, 1.50 ERA) vs. RHP Sean McLaughlin (3-1, 4.08)
Saturday (4 p.m., SEC Network+)
RHP Walker Buehler (2-0, 1.93 ERA) vs. LHP Ryan Lawlor (3-3, 2.52 ERA)
Sunday (2:30 p.m., SEC Network)
RHP Jordan Sheffield (3-0, 2.52 ERA) vs. TBA
The defending National Champion Vanderbilt Commodores (24-6, 7-2 SEC) won their third consecutive conference series pulling out 2 of 3 wins over rival Tennessee last weekend. Vanderbilt opened SEC play with a sweep of Arkansas and then won 2-of-3 at Auburn. Most recently, the Commodores swept a 2-game mid-week series from Wofford. Vandy, which is ranked No. 1 by at least two services, will now head to Athens for a 3-game series with the improved Bulldogs.
Vanderbilt as a team is batting at a .315 average (3rd in SEC) and has scored an average of 7.5 runs per game.
Short stop Dansby Swanson (.370, 27 RBIs) is the 'Dores top hitter and leading base stealing threat with 10 successful steals in 11 attempts. Right fielder Rhett Wiseman (.365, 22 RBIs) had four hits in the Tennessee series. First baseman Zander Wiel (.352 , 35 RBIs), has twice been named SEC Player of the Week, most recently for going 7-for-15 (.467) with seven RBI and eight runs scored last week. Second baseman Tyler Campbell (.271, 13 RBIs) and third baseman freshman Will Toffey (.283, 17 RBIs) round out the top Commodore hitting threats. Karl Ellison (.279, 9 RBIs) hit a grand slam home run in the Sunday rout of Tennessee.
Vanderbilt leads the SEC in combined staff strikeouts with 306 and also is the leader in opposing batting average (.208). The Commodores, who have posted four shutouts this season (2nd nationally), are fourth in the conference in ERA at 2.80. Righty Carson Fulmer (4-1, 1.50 ERA) leads the Commodore staff in strikeouts with 60. Last week in Friday's game against UT Fulmer was spectacular, striking out 12 Vols in eight innings of work while allowing five scattered hits and walking just three in a 9-0 Commodore shutout.
Junior righty Walker Buehler (2-0, 1.93 ERA) will take the mound for the 'Dores on Saturday. Buehler missed several games during the pre-conference schedule due to injury and seems to be slowly returning to his 2014 form. Last Saturday against Tennessee he struck out seven but allowed seven hits and five unearned runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched.
Redshirt freshman right hander Jordan Sheffield (3-0, 2.52 ERA) is set to pitch on Sunday. Sheffield has suddenly emerged as a quality Commodore starting pitcher. Last week against Tennessee in four innings of work Sheffield struck out three while allowing four hits and two earned runs. This season Sheffield has struck out 32 batters in 35 2/3 innings pitched and is allowing opposing batters a .155 batting average. He does need to improve in the area of walks allowed (25).
Vandy's bullpen is in its usual great shape with players like Philip Pfeifer (2-2, 2.56), lefty John Kilichowski (2-0, 3.82) and Kyle Wright (3-0, 1.26). Ben Bowden (4-1, 2.41) is closer for the 'Dores. He has 28 strikeouts in just 18 2/3 innings pitched.
Georgia (18-12, 5-4 SEC) is much improved over the past few seasons. After being swept by Missouri to start the season, the Bulldogs swept Tennessee and then took 2-of-3 games at South Carolina. Most recently, the Bulldogs fell to rival Georgia Tech 13-6 on Tuesday night.
Georgia as a team bats .275 good for ninth best in the league. The Bulldogs are also ninth in the conference in on-base percentage (.366) and sixth in runs scored (183).
Center fielder Stephen Wrenn (.322, 17 RBI) is Georgia top dog at the plate. He leads the team in hits (38) and has four home runs. He's also the top base stealer with 16 thefts in 21 attempts. Catcher Zack Bowers (.310, 20 RBI) has 11 doubles and leads the Dawgs in homers with six. He is tied for most RBIs on the roster. Shortstop Nick King (.305, 7 RBI) is one of three Bulldogs that has started every game this season. Right fielder Skyler Weber (.287, 20 RBI) has only been struck out 13 times in 101 at bats. Second baseman Mike Bell (.282, 19 RBI) is another player who has started every game for the Bulldogs. He's got three homers and four doubles.
Georgia's pitching staff has allowed combined ERA of 4.06. UGA pitchers have struck out 244 batters this season. Georgia pitchers have allowed 243 hits this season.
Junior righty RHP Sean McLaughlin (3-1, 4.08) is scheduled to pitch for the Bulldogs on Friday. McLaughlin has started five games this season and has pitched the second most innings of any Bulldog pitcher (35.1). In 128 batters faced he has struck out 29 while walking 21 and allowing 30 hits. McLaughlin was 38th round pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 2012 MLB draft.
Another lefty, junior Ryan Lawlor (3-3, 2.52 ERA) is slated to face Walker Buehler on Saturday. Last week at USC Lawlor struck out five and walked two while allowing five hits and no earned runs in a 4-3 win over the Gamecocks. Lawlor leads the team in strikeouts with 39.
Georgia’s Sunday starting pitcher is to be announced. Some candidates to start include junior RHP Mike Mancuso (0-0, 4.35 ERA). Last week on Sunday Manuso pitched four innings, allowing four hits, two walks and three earned runs in a 8-5 loss. Lefty Jared Walsh pitched 5 2/3 innings last Friday versus South Carolina, striking out four and walking nine in a 6-5 UGA win over the Gamecocks. Walsh has a fastball that reaches the low 90s.
RHP Zach Waters (1-0, 6.46 ERA), LHP Bo Tucker (0-0, 1.93 ERA), LHP Jared Walsh (3-0, 1.87 ERA) , LHP Connor Jones (0-2, 11.05 ERA) and RHP Austin Wallace (0-0, 9.64) are some of the relievers the Bulldogs used in the South Carolina series.
Senior righty Jared Cheek (2-1, 3.06 ERA) leads the Bulldogs in saves with four.
SEC THIS WEEK
Vanderbilt at Georgia
LSU at Alabama (Thur.-Sat,)
South Carolina at Mississippi State (Thur.-Sat.)
Texas A&M at Kentucky (Thur.-Sat.)
Arkansas at Auburn
Florida at Missouri
Tennessee at Ole Miss
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