May 7, 2009
The Tennessee baseball team kicks off the final two weeks of the regular season by hosting South Carolina for a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Robert M. Lindsay Field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Game times are set for 7 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
The weekend's series will mark UT's final three home games of the season. Tennessee's 2009 seniors will be honored during Senior Day Ceremonies prior to Sunday's home finale.
Tennessee (21-27, 7-17 SEC) has earned 18 of its 21 victories at home this season and hopes to continue that trend this weekend. Overall this season, the Vols are batting .284 as a team with 85 doubles and 74 home runs. At home, UT has a .309 team batting average and 56 homers.
The Volunteers have counted on their strong defense all season long. Entering this weekend, the Volunteers have a .974 fielding percentage which ranks them second in the conference and top 20 in the nation. The top fielding percentage in school history was .977 set in 1994. Sophomore center fielder Kentrail Davis has not committed an error all season and three others (first baseman Cody Hawn and outfielders P.J. Polk and Josh Liles) have committed only one error.
South Carolina (30-18, 12-12) is coming off its top weekend of the year at the plate in a weekend sweep over Vanderbilt with the team batting .385 (42-for-109). Included in that .385 average was 20 extra base hits (10 HR, 1 3B, 9 2B) and 32 RBI. It was also the team's best pitching ERA in SEC games with the squad finishing at 4.33 on the weekend. The Gamecocks allowed just 13 runs on 29 hits in 27 innings.
This weekend's pitching matchups feature UT junior left-handed Nick Hernandez (2-5, 5.58 ERA) taking the mound Friday against South Carolina right-hander Sam Dyson (7-3, 5.05). Senior right-hander Ty'Relle Harris (4-4, 6.18) will start for the Vols on Saturday opposite Gamecock southpaw Nolan Belcher (3-3, 4.40). Tennessee has not announced a starting pitcher for Sunday, while USC is expected to send right-handed freshman Blake Cooper (6-4, 5.14) to the hill.
South Carolina holds a 38-32 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams, dating back to 1912. The two teams have split the last 10 meetings despite South Carolina winning the 2008 series, 2-1. Tennessee leads 17-11 in Knoxville.
All three games are slated for radio broadcast in the Knoxville area on WNML-AM 990, 99.1 FM and 99.3 FM. In addition, live video streaming featuring a free audio stream of the play-by-play for Friday and Sunday's games can be accessed online at UTsports.com.
Numerous promotions are slated to take place at the ballpark this weekend beginning with Friday's Dollar Hot Dog night. The first 1,000 fans in attendance that night will receive pennants commemorating the 100th year of Tennessee baseball. Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday's game.
On Saturday, the first 250 kids will receive free mini bats. Both Friday and Saturday, kids who wear their Little League uniform will get free admission to the game.
Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day. All children ages 17 and under will receive free admission to the game and a voucher for a free hot dog and drink. Kids also can run the bases after the game and get autographs from Tennessee coaches and players.