May 10, 2007
The Tennessee baseball team continues it fight to earn a postseason berth this weekend when it hosts No. 7 South Carolina for a three-game series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Volunteers have six regular-season Southeastern Conference games remaining and have their sights set on playing their way into the top eight spots in the league standings. Only those top eight teams earn berths in the SEC Tournament, which takes place May 23-27 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
Game times for this weekend are set for 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. All three contests can be heard in the Knoxville area on WNML The Sports Animal (AM 990, FM 99.1 & 99.3), and Saturday's game will be televised regionally on CSS.
Tennessee (29-20, 10-12 SEC) has won seven of its last 10 games and each of its last two SEC series (at LSU and vs. Ole Miss). The Volunteers are hitting .296 as a team and boast a 4.52 staff ERA. Tennessee pitchers have performed well as of late, allowing no walks over the last 20 innings -- a span of 77 batters faced.
The Vols rank 11th nationally and lead the SEC with 54 double plays on the year, and UT's 75 stolen bases this season rank second in the SEC. One of Tennessee's hottest bats recently has been that of All-America catcher J.P. Arencibia. The junior is hitting .600 over the last five games and recently moved into a tie for fourth place on the school's all-time RBIs list.
South Carolina (36-14, 13-11) sits in fifh place in the overall SEC standings (second in the SEC Eastern Division) and invades Knoxville with a dangerous lineup and outstanding pitching staff. The Gamecocks are ranked as high as seventh nationally and are hitting .304 as a team. Carolina's 90 home runs lead the conference, and its .523 slugging percentage also leads the league.
The Gamecocks' team ERA stands at 3.61 to rank second in the SEC. South Carolina's 475 total strikeouts this season rank first in the conference, and its 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings ranks among the top three nationally.
Friday's pitching matchup features Tennessee ace James Adkins (5-6, 2.70 ERA) against Gamecocks left-hander Arik Hempy (5-1, 1.59 ERA). The Vols have not announced their second two weekend starters, but South Carolina will send right-handers Harris Honeycutt (7-4, 3.63 ERA) and Blake Cooper (6-1, 2.76 ERA) to the mound on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Tennessee's 2007 Senior Day ceremony will take place prior to Friday's series-opener (approximately 6:45 p.m.). Pitcher Craig Cobb and equipment manager Luke Alger will be honored on the field for their contributions to the program over the last four years. Fans who attend Friday's series-opener also will be treated to a postgame fireworks show.
Also on both Friday and Saturday, Allegiant Air will be giving away two round-tip tickets to Orlando, Tampa or Las Vegas (winner can choose). Fans can sign up to win when they enter the stadium. Separate drawings will be held both nights. A similar drawing will be offered Sunday exclusively for Mothers on their special day.
In addition to televising Saturday's game, CSS is also giving away blankets to the first 500 fans at the stadium that day. The blankets can be used during the postgame viewing of the movie "The Benchwarmers," starring Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder. Fans can sit on the outfield grass and watch the movie on the stadium's video screen.
On Sunday, fans with unused tickets to any of Tennessee's previous home games this season can redeem those tickets for free admittance. All kids also receive free admission to Sunday's game, and "Fan Appreciation Day" festivities after the contest allow fans to visit with the team on the field while kids can run the bases.