The teams have split eight meeting all-time 4-4. Kent State won 2-1 the last time the teams met in the 2006 Music City Classic.
Series History vs. Illinois State
Illinois State leads the all-time series 3-2. The Redbirds captured a 2-1 decision the last time the teams met in 2005.
Series History vs. Indiana
Vanderbilt leads the all-time series 10-5-1 including a 10-0 win in last season's NCAA Louisville Regional. Sonny Gray threw eight shutout innings in the elimination game.
Vanderbilt is ranked No. 25 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers and No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball. Kent State, Illinois State and Indiana are not ranked this week.
VU's Tim Corbin is 283-158 in his eighth season in Nashville. He is 389-296 in 14 seasons overall. KSU's Scott Stricklin is 187-106 in his sixth season. ISU's Mark Kingston is 4-2 in his first season as head coach. IU's Tracy Smith is 106-131 in his fifth season in Bloomington. He is 423-351-1 in 13 years overall.
All of Vanderbilt's games this weekend will be Internet only webcasts via www.vucommodores.com. Eric Jones will call this weekend's action. Fans can also sign up for text updates via www.twitter.com/vandybaseball and follow livestats for all six games of the round-robin tourney through www.vucommodores.com.
Season and single game tickets are available for purchase online at www.vucommodores.com or through the Vanderbilt Ticket Office (615) 322-GOLD.
What's On Tap
Vanderbilt continues its season long nine-game home stand this weekend as Kent State, Illinois State and Indiana come to town for the Music City Classic. The Commodores will face Kent State on Friday at 4 p.m., Illinois State on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Indiana on Sunday at 4 p.m. The round-robin tournament kicks off with Indiana vs. Illinois State on Friday at Noon.
Music City Classic Schedule
March 5 Indiana vs. Illinois State - Noon Kent State at Vanderbilt - 4 p.m.
March 6 Kent State vs. Indiana - Noon Illinois State at Vanderbilt - 4 p.m.
March 7 Illinois State vs. Kent State - Noon Indiana at Vanderbilt - 4 p.m.
About Kent State
Kent State is 4-3 after taking three of four at Wake Forest last weekend. The Golden Flashes opened on the road against Western Kentucky and dropped two of three to the Hilltoppers. KSU has a daunting opening slate with 14 straight road games to open the year and 18 of 19 overall.
Sophomore designated hitter David Lyon leads the team offensively, batting .423 with two homers and five RBI. Third baseman Travis Shaw is the top power source with four homers and 12 RBI to go along with a .313 batting average. As a team, KSU sports a .280 batting average with nine homers, 18 doubles and 54 runs scored (7.7 per game).
Junior right-hander Robert Sabo is slated to take the mound against Vanderbilt on Friday. He is 0-1 on the year with a 7.59 earned run average through two starts. He allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks in five innings of action against Wake Forest last Friday. As a team, the Golden Flash have a 6.14 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 31 walks in 63.0 innings.
About Illinois State
Illinois State enters the tournament on a four game winning streak after going 3-0 at the Central Florida Invitational last weekend in Winterhaven. Like Kent State, ISU opens the year as road warriors with 14 straight games away from home before hosting Central Michigan on March 19.
Sophomore second baseman Kevin Tokarski has been on fire through the first six games for the Redbirds batting .600 (15-for-25) with six doubles, a triple, 10 RBI and 10 runs scored while also a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen bases. The Trojans are hitting .371 as a team with five homers, 19 doubles and 77 runs scored (12.8 per game).
Senior left-hander Ryan Copeland (0-0, 8.00 ERA) will take the hill against VU on Saturday. He allowed eight runs, five earned, on 10 hits with a walk and a strikeout against Duquesne last Sunday. As a team, ISU has a 7.85 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 31 walks in 55.0 innings.
Indiana enters the tournament with a 2-5 record after going 1-2 at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge last weekend in Tampa/St. Pete, Fla. The Hoosiers captured the Big 10 tournament title last season and played in the NCAA Louisville Regional along with the Commodores.
Indiana is in the midst of 18 straight road games and don't play its home opener till March 24.
Junior first baseman Jerrud Sabourin leads the team with a .400 batting average along with a homer, three doubles and seven RBI. Sophomore outfielder Alex Dickerson, a preseason All-American, leads the team with two homers while batting .323. As a team, IU is hitting at a .273 clip with three homers, 21 doubles and 39 runs scored (5.6 per game).
Sophomore right-hander Ethan Wilson (0-0) will make his first start of the season against Vanderbilt on Sunday. He has pitched three scoreless innings of relief entering Friday's game against Illinois State. Wilson was a position player exclusively his first two years in Bloomington, and played in five games in 2009 before getting injured, ending his year prematurely. As a team the Hoosiers have a 7.78 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 31 walks in 59.0 innings.
Johns Making Early Impact
Junior infielder Bryan Johns has definitely made an impact offensively through the first eight games of the year. Johns, a junior college transfer from Howard College, went 0-for-3 in the season opener against Niagara on Feb. 19 and has since recorded a hit in seven straight games. He broke out with a 4-for-5, four RBI night against USC last Saturday and currently leads the Commodores and the Southeastern Conference, with a .500 batting average. Because of returning starters Brian Harris at short and Riley Reynolds at second, Johns has seen most of his action at designated hitter, and he has proven thus far he can capably fill that spot.
Pitching Off To Fast Start
Through the first eight games, the pitching staff is second in the SEC with a 2.10 earned run average. 11 pitchers have seen action thus far and have recorded 71 strikeouts with 21 walks in 73.0 innings. In the last three games, VU has allowed just four earned runs with 20 strikeouts and eight walks in 27.0 innings. In four of the eight games played entering the weekend, the Commodores allowed one run or less, including an opening day shutout of Niagara (Feb. 19).
Vanderbilt Powers Past Tennessee Tech
Vanderbilt scored nine runs in the first two innings and the trio of Chase Reid, Will Clinard and Sam Selman limited Tennessee Tech to just an unearned run on six hits in a 10-1 win Tuesday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
Harris led off the second with a single, Johns doubled to left and Westlake was hit to load the bases for the second straight inning. Casali singled up the middle to score two and Esposito added a RBI single through the right side to make it 7-0. Harrell capped things off with a two-run double to extend the lead to 9-0.
Tech scored its lone run in the third, taking advantage of a fielding error by Esposito on a slow roller underneath his legs with two outs in the inning.
Casali's solo homer in he sixth, his second of the year, pushed the advantage to 10-1.
Chase Reid (1-0) allowed one run, unearned, on four hits in 4.2 innings with four strikeouts and a walk in the winning effort.
Will Clinard came on in the fifth and pitched 3.1 innings of one-hit relief with three strikeouts and Sam Selman closed things out with a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts.
Brian Harris led the Commodores with three hits, while Harrell and Casali added four and three RBI respectively.
Vanderbilt went 3-1 on the week, winning a midweek game against Austin Peay in extra innings before losing its first game of the season to Gerrit Cole and UCLA Friday night in the Dodgertown Classic. VU rebounded with wins over USC and against Oklahoma State at Dodger Stadium to go 2-1 in the Classic ... The Commodores hit .306 in the tourney with two homers, six doubles and 19 runs scored ... Junior college transfer Bryan Johns and junior Curt Casali led the team in hitting going 6-for-11 with two doubles apiece. Johns also collected four RBI on the weekend ... Leadoff hitter Brian Harris was 4-for-9 (.444) with a double, two RBI and four runs scored. He also was hit three times and walked three times and ended with a .667 slugging percentage ... The pitching staff sported a 3.81 ERA with 19 strikeouts and nine walks in 26.0 innings ... Taylor Hill was the lone starter to pick up a win on the week, scattering eight hits over six innings against USC on Saturday. He struck out two and walked two in moving to 2-0 on the year ... Russell Brewer picked up a win and a save on the week. He threw 2.1 innings of one hit scoreless relief against Austin Peay on Tuesday. He struck out three in picking up his first win of the year. He then closed out the Oklahoma State game on Sunday to earn his first save of the year. Brewer now has 13 saves in his career ... Chase Reid had a solid start against Austin Peay on Tuesday, allowing one run on three hits in six innings of work with five strikeouts in the no decision.
Commodores Picked To Finish Fourth In SEC East
Vanderbilt was picked to finish fourth in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division as the league office released its annual preseason coaches poll today.
The Commodores received one first-place vote in the division with Florida, last year's division winner, garnering 64 of a possible 66 points from the coaches.
LSU is predicted to repeat as the 2010 Southeastern Conference baseball champions, as voted by the league's 12 baseball coaches in the 19th annual preseason SEC poll.
The Tigers, ranked No. 2 nationally in multiple preseason polls, seek to capture their league-leading 15th SEC Championship. The Tigers return eight position players with starting experience and 10 pitchers from their 2009 squad, which claimed the NCAA National Championship.
Since 1996, the SEC has named a regular season champion as well as a tournament champion. Prior to 1996, the tournament champion was considered the SEC Champion.
In the overall SEC Champion vote, LSU received five of a possible 11 votes. Florida received four votes while Arkansas had three.
In addition to picking a preseason SEC champion, the league's head coaches voted a predicted order of finish in the SEC Eastern and Western Divisions. In the Eastern Division, Florida was the favorite with 64 of a possible 66 points. South Carolina came in second with 52 points and Georgia third with 42. LSU was favorite in the Western Division with a total of 63 points. Arkansas was second with 59, while Ole Miss, who shared the overall title last season with LSU, finished third with 39.
Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
Eastern Division Team 1) Florida (9) 2) South Carolina (2) 3) Georgia 4) Vanderbilt (1) 5) Kentucky 6) Tennessee
Western Division Team 1) LSU (8) 2) Arkansas (4) 3) Ole Miss 4) Alabama 5) Auburn 6) Mississippi State
( ) - First Place Votes SEC Champion: LSU (5); Florida (4); Arkansas (3)
Commodores Had Longest Road Trip In College Baseball
As Division I baseball starts up this week across the country, one Vanderbilt record that will not be beaten is longest trip of the year. Vanderbilt traveled 6,648 miles to Tokyo, Japan and an additional 1,797 miles to Hong Kong over the Thanksgiving holiday week. Due to a generous gift by Vanderbilt alum Bill Kaye, the Commodores were able to fly to Japan and face four of the top teams in Japan's collegiate system. Along with the quality competition the kids were able to experience different cultures, each with their own unique traditions and histories. The team went 1-1-2 on the field and learned valuable lessons off the field as well.