April 19, 2007
For the first time since the 2000 season, the Tennessee baseball team is set to square off against the top-ranked team in the country. The Volunteers depart Thursday for Nashville, Tenn., where they will face No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt in a three-game weekend series at Charles Hawkins Field. Game times are set for 7 p.m. CT Friday, 6 p.m. CT Saturday and 1 p.m. CT Sunday.
Saturday's game will be televised regionally on CSS, and all three contests can be heard in the Knoxville area on WNML The Sports Animal (AM 990, FM 99.1 & 99.3).
Tabbed in the preseason as one of the year's most high-profile series on a national scale, this weekend's games feature four players who are projected as top-20 picks in the upcoming MLB Draft as well as five members of the gold-medal-winning 2006 USA Baseball National Team.
Vols juniors J.P. Arencibia and Julio Borbon join Commodores ace David Price as potential first-rounders in the June draft. Those three were joined by Vandy's Pedro Alvarez and Casey Weathers on last summer's elite Team USA squad that won the FISU World Championship in Havana, Cuba.
Tennessee (22-14, 6-7 SEC) has won its last six series against Southeastern Conference Eastern Division teams, including a 2-1 series triumph over Vandy last year in Knoxville. The Vols bring a .287 team batting average and a 4.37 staff ERA into the weekend. Tennessee is 3-6 away from Knoxville this season but won two of three games in its most recent road trip (at Kentucky April 7-8).
Vanderbilt is 32-8 (9-6 SEC) under fifth-year head coach Tim Corbin and is currently ranked No. 1 in three of the four major college baseball polls. The Commodores are batting .320 as a team and lead the SEC in hits and doubles. Vandy's 3.51 staff ERA ranks third in the conference, and the Dores lead the league with 371 strikeouts.
Vanderbilt is tied with South Carolina atop the SEC Eastern Division standings, and Tennessee currently sits in fourth place in the division.
Left-handed junior sensations Adkins (4-5, 3.11 ERA) and Price (6-0, 3.03 ERA) will take the mound for the Vols and Commodores, respectively, in Friday's series-opener. Senior right-hander Craig Cobb (6-2, 4.86 ERA) is set to start for UT Saturday opposite Vanderbilt lefty Mike Minor (6-0, 1.69 ERA). And Sunday's finale matches Vols left-hander Lance McClain (5-4, 4.80 ERA) against a VU pitcher that has yet to be named.
Tennessee has played Vanderbilt more than any other opponent and leads the all-time series 161-132-2, dating to 1897. The teams have split their last six games, but the Vols have won just one of their last five series in Nashville. UT head coach Rod Delmonico owns a 35-20 career record against the Commodores.
Vanderbilt is the highest-ranked opponent that UT has faced since an 8-5 neutral-site loss to No. 3 Georgia Tech on Feb. 24, 2006. The last time Tennessee played the top-ranked team in the nation it was swept at South Carolina in 2000.