April 2, 2009
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Vanderbilt (17-11, 3-6 SEC) vs. No. 19 Florida (18-9, 6-3 SEC)
Friday, April 1 at 6 p.m. CT SUN TV
Saturday, April 2 at 3 p.m. CT Fox Sports Net
Sunday, April 3 at 1 p.m. CT Cox Sports Television
Hawkins Field (3,700) in Nashville, Tenn.
Series History vs. Florida
Florida leads 116-59-1 all-time in a series that dates back to 1927. The Commodores have won two of the last three series including a three-game sweep in Nashville two years ago. The Gators returned the favor, sweeping VU 3-0 in the final series of the regular season.
Last Two Seasons
May 21, 2008: Vanderbilt 7, Florida 3 (Hoover, Ala.)
May 17, 2008: Florida 13, Vanderbilt 12 (Gainesville, Fla.)
May 16, 2008: Florida 5, Vanderbilt 4 (Gainesville, Fla.)
May 15, 2008: Florida 8, Vanderbilt 6 (Gainesville, Fla.)
April 29, 2007: Vanderbilt 13, Florida 5 (Nashville)
April 28, 2007: Vanderbilt 17, Florida 6 (Nashville)
April 27, 2007: Vanderbilt 10, Florida 1 (Nashville)
Vanderbilt is not ranked. Florida is ranked No. 19 by Collegiate Baseball and RIvals.com. They are also ranked No. 20 by Baseball America and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers and No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
VU's Tim Corbin is 256-141 in his seventh season in Nashville. He is 362-278 in 13 seasons overall. He is 11-10 against the Gators. Florida's Kevin O'Sullivan is 52-33 in his second season in Gainesville. He is 3-1 against the Commodores.
All three contests can be heard in the Nashville area on 560 AM WNSR and on the internet via www.vucommodores.com. Joe Fisher will call all the action. Live webcasts for Friday and Sunday can be accessed through www.vucommodores.com. Fans can also sign up for text updates via www.twitter.com/vandybaseball.
All three contests will also be televised. Friday's game will be on SUN TV, Saturday's on Fox Sports Net and Sunday's on Cox Sports TV. Mick Hubert (play-by-play) and Nick Belmonte (analysis) will call the action on Friday and Sunday with Dave Neal (play-by-play) and Belmonte calling Saturday's SEC Game of the Week.
What's On Tap
After back-to-back weekends on the road in Southeastern Conference play, Vanderbilt returns home to face No. 19 Florida this weekend at Hawkins Field. The teams will hook up on Friday at 6 p.m. CT and on Saturday at 3 p.m. before concluding the set on Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be televised regionally by three different entities. Check local listings for broadcast info.
Florida is 18-9 overall and 6-3 in SEC play after sweeping Alabama at home over the weekend. The Gators opened league action at 0-3 after getting swept by Arkansas in Fayetteville, but have since responded with home sweeps over Tennessee and the Crimson Tide. UF comes into the weekend having won 9 of 11 after dropping a 3-2 five-inning contest to Florida State in a rain-shortened contest in Jacksonville on Tuesday,
The Gators have six position starters and six pitchers back from last season's team that finished 34-24 overall and in third place in the SEC East with a 17-13 ledger.
Shortstop Josh Adams leads the team in hitting with a .351 batting average to go with two homers and 16 RBI. Outfielder Matt den Dekker is one of the top power sources with four homers and 16 RBI to go with a .337 batting average, while also leading the team in stolen bases with five in five attempts. As a team the Gators are batting .290 with 17 homers and 173 runs scored (6.4 per game).
Junior right-hander Jeff Barfield (2-0, 2.42 ERA) will start in the opener Friday night, with freshman left-hander Nick Maronde (1-1, 3.77 ERA) scheduled to go on Saturday. The Gators starter on Sunday is to be determined. The team sports a 3.75 ERA, third best in SEC, with 167 strikeouts and 77 walks in 275.0 innings.
For the second straight weekend, Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin is meeting up with another SEC head coach with Clemson ties. Florida's Kevin O'Sullivan spent nine seasons as the pitching coach for the Tigers (1999-2007) before becoming the Gators head coach after the 2007 season. Corbin and O'Sullivan spent four seasons together in Clemson (1999-2002) before Corbin was named Vanderbilt's head coach after the 2002 season.
Last week Corbin met up with Auburn's first-year head coach John Pawlowski who also served as a Clemson assistant for five seasons from 1994-98.
Minor Makes Move
In a season full of ups and downs, one of the pitchers who has remained consistent is junior southpaw Mike Minor. The Chapel Hill native has gone a minimum of seven innings in five of his seven starts on the year including seven innings in both his last two starts against Kentucky and Auburn. He went 5.2 innings in his first start of the season against Stanford and left the game with a 5-1 lead that was later relinquished. Last Friday against Auburn, he limited the league's leading home run team to just five singles in a 12-3 win over the Tigers. He struck out 11, one short of his career high of 12 against Alabama last season. In his last two starts, Minor has allowed four earned runs on 11 hits in 14 innings with 14 strikeouts and four walks.
He was named to the Golden Spikes Award and Brooks Wallace Award Watch Lists, both honors given to the top player in college baseball.
Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball tabbed him a second-team preseason All-American while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association had him on its third team.
Last season Minor tied for the team lead in wins with seven, finishing with a 7-3 record with two complete games. As a freshman in 2007, he went 9-1 and sports a 16-4 career mark into the 2009 season.
Minor served as the ace of the USA Baseball National team squad that went 24-0 over the summer and captured the FISU World University Championships in the Czech Republic in July. He went 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA during the tour with 37 strikeouts and 13 walks in a team high 36 innings.
The Chapel Hill, Tenn., native two biggest performances came against the Cuban National team in a span of a week last July. The Cuban contingent was the same team, minus one player, that captured the 2004 Olympic gold medal and was the runner-up at the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Minor threw 6.1 innings of four-hit shutout baseball in a 1-0 win on July 6 at the Haarlem Baseball Week In Harleem, Netherlands. He followed that up in his next start by allowing just an unearned run on four hits over six innings in the gold medal clinching game of the tourney on July 13.
Minor completed his two-year National team run with an 8-2 record and a 1.17 ERA with 74 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 69 innings of action.
Redshirt freshman Aaron Westlake has heated up over the last five games, hitting at nearly a .500 clip entering the weekend. The California native is 10-for-21 (.476) with two doubles, four RBI and seven runs scored and is hitting a team-best .419 with a homer, nine doubles and 24 RBI in 28 games on the year. In SEC play, he is also hitting a team best .371 with three doubles and six RBI in nine games.
Liddle Lights Up
Sophomore outfielder Steven Liddle entered the year with no homers in his collegiate career and did not hit one in the first 13 games of this year. After hitting his first homer in the win over Lipscomb on March 10, he has added three more over the last two weeks to give him four on the season, second most on the team. The Franklin native is 10-for-21 (.476) over his last five games with two homers, two doubles, a triple and seven RBI. For the season, Liddle is second on the team with a .364 batting average with four homers, 11 doubles, two triples and 25 RBI.
Andrew Giobbi Returns
Junior catcher Andrew Giobbi returned to full-time action last weekend after missing 16 games due to a broken hand suffered against Vermont on Feb. 27. Giobbi played right field all three games against Auburn over the weekend and returned to his catching spot against Belmont on Wednesday. Since his return he has heated up offensively going 7-for-18 (.389) with a homer and three RBI in five games. His average has risen from .160 before the injury to .256 entering this weekend's action.
Dores Fall To Belmont In First Midweek Loss of Year
Belmont rallied from a 5-4 deficit with four runs in the fourth and went on to a 15-6 win over Vanderbilt Wednesday night at Greer Stadium.
The Commodores lost to the Bruins for the first time in seven games dating back to the 2003 season.
Belmont jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first as the Bruins got to Reid early. Derek Wiley and Matt Zeblo recorded RBI doubles while Daniel Wagner added an RBI single to lead the Bruin first-inning offensive attack.
Reid lasted only one inning as he allowed four runs, three earned and four hits, snapping his 13.2 scoreless inning streak.
The Commodores cut into the lead in the top third when they got back-to-back homeruns from Steven Liddle and Curt Casali, including a three-run shot from Liddle. The homerun for Liddle was his fourth of the season while Casali's was his sixth. It marked the first time Vanderbilt had back-to-back jacks this season. Three batters later Joe Loftus gave the Commodores its first lead when he drove in Westlake from third base on a sacrifice fly to center field.
The Bruins tied the game up at five in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single by Packy Elkins and than took the lead on a bases loaded walk to Brandon McCall by reliever Drew Hayes. Belmont extended its lead after an RBI single by Wagner and sacrifice fly by Zeblo, taking an 8-5 lead.
Belmont added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth with the key hit in the inning being Phillip Parsley's two-out, two-run double making score 11-5.
The Bruins added three more runs in the bottom of the seventh extending its lead to 14-5. Belmont's big hits in the inning were a Wiley solo homerun and a two-RBI double by Zeblo. Both of the runs came off of the expense of reliever Navery Moore.
Vanderbilt scored a run in the bottom of seventh when Giobbi scored on a fielding error by Elkins.
Vanderbilt went 3-2 last week, winning a pair of midweek games against Austin Peay and Wright State, while losing two of three at Auburn over the weekend ... The Commodores' four-game winning streak was snapped in Saturday's loss to the Tigers ... VU has now lost five straight SEC series dating back to last season against Georgia (May 9-11). They are 4-11 in league games in that span. The last time VU has lost five straight series was in 2002 when they lost six in a row. The last time the Dores have lost three straight conference series in a single season was in 2006 ... The series loss to Auburn was the first since the 2002 season and the first time the Commodores have lost in five series against the Tigers under Tim Corbin ... Seven of the 10 losses this season have been by two runs or less. VU is 2-5 in one run games and 1-2 in two run games (3-7 combined) ... Offensively the Commodores had a pretty strong week hitting .368 with five homers, a triple, 13 doubles and 39 runs scored in five games (7.8 per game). In the three game series against Auburn, VU hit .408 as a team with three homers, 10 doubles and 25 runs scored (8.3 per game) ... Freshman Jason Esposito continued his solid first-year as a Commodore going 9-for-18 (.500) on the week with three doubles and five RBI. He was 7-for-12 (.583) in the Auburn series with two doubles and four RBI ... Redshirt freshman Aaron Westlake broke out of a mild hitting slump with a 10-for-21 (.476) week with two doubles and five RBI. He had two four-hit games in the Auburn series and went 9-for-14 (.643) with two doubles and four RBI and six runs scored in the three games. His average is now .426 on the year (third in the SEC) ... Junior Andrew Giobbi returned to the lineup this weekend, starting all three games in right field while his broken left hand continues to heal. He was 6-for-14 (.429) on the weekend with a homer and three RBI ... Freshman Riley Reynolds went 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles, five RBI and four runs scored over five games and is now hitting .346 on the season ... Sophomore Steven Liddle went 8-for-21 (.381) with two doubles, a triple, one homer and four RBI ... Sophomore Curt Casali was 7-for-20 (.350) with two doubles and six runs scored with four RBI ... The big offensive weekend pushed the Commodores batting average to .320 for the year, third best in the league ... The week pitching wise started out strong with the first shutout of the year in a 4-0 win over Wright State on Wednesday, but ended up allowing 19 runs in the three games against Auburn (6.48 ERA). For the week the team compiled a 4.81 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 21 walks in 43.0 innings ... Junior ace Mike Minor picked up his first SEC win of the year in Friday's 12-3 win over Auburn. He struck out a season high 11 batter in seven innings of work and allowed three runs, two earned, off of five hits. He didn't allow a homer to the Tigers bash brigade that pounded seven the rest of the weekend and now boast 58 on the season to lead the league and NCAA ... Five hurlers, Chase Reid (3.0), Grayson Garvin (2.0), Drew Hayes (2.0), Richie Goodenow (1.0) and Sonny Gray (1.0) combined on a four-hit shutout over Wright State. VU improved defensively over the five games with just three errors in 185 chances (.984 fielding percentage).
Vanderbilt Newcomers Among Nation's Best
For the second time in four seasons, Vanderbilt's baseball recruiting class has been ranked in the Top 3 in the country.
Baseball America ranked the class second in the country while Collegiate Baseball had the class ranked at No. 3. Both publications listed Arizona State as having the No. 1 class, while Collegiate Baseball had Oregon at No. 2 with a 35 member class in its first season back since being eliminated as a varsity sport after the 1980-81 season.
13 members of the class reported to school in August with three other players choosing the professional ranks. Of the 13 that are in school, eight were drafted and decided to play collegiately.
The coaching staff put together the class in anticipation of a mass exodus following the 2008 season. The Commodores lost seven offensive players who had started over the last three years, including first round draft picks Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty as well as the school's all-time hits leader Dominic de la Osa.
Of Perfect Game's Top 250 prospects for college, high school and Puerto Rico, 32 players from high school did not sign professional contracts and are attending Division I schools or junior colleges. Of the 32, Vanderbilt had five players, the most of any school in the country.
Facility Upgrades Are Complete
Two seasons ago temporary bleachers were put out in right field due to Vanderbilt's first ever NCAA regional at Hawkins Field. The success of that regional set in motion plans to add permanent bleachers from right to the left-field "Green Monster". Those bleachers were added in the offseason along with 200 additional chairback seats down the first base line, bringing the seating capacity to 3,700. Season tickets are still available for both the chairbacks and bleacher seats. Fans can purchase them via www.vucommodores.com or via the ticket office at (615) 322-GOLD.
Also added in the Baseball Fieldhouse is a new Hall of Honor showcasing the top players and teams in Vanderbilt history. Video highlights of recent seasons are also available via a touchscreen monitor in the facility.