Baseball: Vanderbilt visits Kentucky

The Vanderbilt Commodores (13-6, 1-2 SEC) travel north to Kentucky (13-4, 1-2 SEC) for a weekend series with the Wildcats. Look inside for complete details of this important conference series.

Vanderbilt (13-6, 1-2 SEC)
vs. Kentucky (13-4, 1-2 SEC)

Friday, March 20 • 5:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 21 • Noon CT
Sunday, March 22 • Noon CT
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)

Broadcast: 560 AM WNSR

Series History vs. Kentucky
Kentucky leads 137-125-5 in a series that dates back to 1905. The Wildcats took two of three in Nashville last year, with the Commodores taking two of three in Lexington in 2007. UK leads 68-46-1 in games played in Lexington all-time.

The Coaches
VU's Tim Corbin is 252-136 in his seventh season in Nashville. He is 358-274 in 13 seasons overall. He is 10-8 against the Wildcats.
Kentucky's Gary Henderson is 13-4 in his first season as head coach. He is in his sixth year with the Wildcat program after having previously served as the associate coach under John Cohen.

Tentative Pitching Matchups
UK: LHP James Paxton (Jr., 3-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. VU: LHP Mike Minor (Jr., 1-1, 3.65 ERA)
UK: LHP Chris Rusin (Sr., 3-1, 3.33 ERA) vs. VU: RHP Caleb Cotham (So., 3-1, 2.77 ERA)
UK: RHP Alex Meyer (Fr., 1-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. VU: RHP Nick Christiani (Sr., 2-0, 5.31 ERA)

Scouting Kentucky
Kentucky is 13-4 overall and 1-2 in SEC play after losing two of three to then No. 3 LSU over the weekend. The Wildcats edged past New Orleans on Monday, 5-4, before returning to Lexington where they will play eight of their next nine contests. UK is 9-0 at Cliff Hagan Stadium entering Friday night's contest against Vanderbilt.

The Wildcats lost several stalwarts from last season's team that finished with a school record 44-19 ledger. Head coach John Cohen returned to his alma mater Mississippi State, after six seasons in Lexington and was succeeded by his pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Gary Henderson. He brought in the fourth best recruiting class in the country according to Baseball America.
Catcher Marcus Nidiffer leads the team with a .444 batting average to go with three homers and 16 RBI. As a team the Wildcats are batting .317 (6th in SEC) with 17 homers and 134 runs scored (7.9 per game).

Junior left-hander James Paxton (3-0, 3.86 ERA) will start in the opener Friday night, with senior southpaw Chris Rusin (3-1, 3.33 ERA) scheduled to go on Saturday. Freshman right-hander Alex Meyer (1-1, 5.06 ERA) will start in the finale on Sunday. The team sports a 3.67 ERA with 165 strikeouts and 51 walks in 147.0 innings.

Scouting Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt (13-6, 1-2 SEC) has been led by a balanced club that has posted a .322 team batting average and a 3.90 ERA. The Commodores have been paced at the plate by freshman Aaron Westlake (.464 avg., 7 2B, HR, 19 RBI), catcher Curt Casali (.382, 4 2B, 5 HR, 25 RBI), infielder Steven Liddle (.375, 8 2B, HR, 16 RBI), freshman Jason Esposito (.355, 7 2B, 2 HR, 17 RBI) and junior Brian Harris (.323, 6 2B, HR, 17 RBI). In the bullpen, sophomore Russell Brewer (0-2, 1.35 ERA, 2 Saves), acclaimed freshman Sonny Gray (1-0, 0.82 ERA, 2 Saves) and junior Drew Hayes (2-1, 2.92 ERA, 2 Saves) have each posted impressive numbers in relief. VU is coming of a series loss at Ole Miss, a series that also saw two seven-inning games played Sunday. Vanderbilt opened SEC play last weekend and struggled in all phases at various points over the weekend. The Commodores lost two of three to Ole Mss before rebounding with late inning rallies past South Alabama and Belmont in midweek action. Over the last five games the team is hitting .285 with 13 doubles and 29 runs scored, while the pitching staff has a 5.49 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 24 walks in 41.0 innings. This is to be expected as several performers are seeing their first extended action in college.



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