Tigers in Town

Vanderbilt readies for top-25 tilt against Auburn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – No. 5 Vanderbilt looks for its fifth SEC series win in six tries when the squad hosts No. 25 Auburn for a three-game series at Hawkins Field. Thursday’s opener is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday’s middle game takes place at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s finale is at 1 p.m.

The first two contests will be broadcast on ESPNU and the SEC Network, respectively, with Dave Neal, Chris Burke and Ben McDonald on the call. The Saturday finale can be seen on the SEC Network Plus, available through WatchESPN, with Andrew Harris and Kevin Ingram. All three contests can be heard on WNSR 560 AM/95.9 FM and VUCommodores.com.

The Commodores (31-9, 12-6 SEC) are riding a four-game win streak following last weekend’s series sweep at Alabama. The road sweep was the first for the Dores in Tuscaloosa since 1906. Vandy batted .328 and scored 22 runs while swatting eight home runs.

The Tigers (27-14, 10-8 SEC) thumped Jacksonville State, 14-2 on Tuesday and climbed back into the top 25 after taking 2-for-3 last weekend against Ole Miss. Auburn walked off the Rebels, 6-5 in 10 innings during Saturday’s finale.

– THURSDAY:RHP Drake Fellows (8-0, 3.39 ERA) vs. RHP Tanner Burns (4-2, 2.32 ERA)
– FRIDAY:RHP Kumar Rocker (4-4, 4.61 ERA) vs. RHP Richard Fitts (3-2, 4.55 ERA)
– SATURDAY:RHP Patrick Raby (6-1, 2.94 ERA) vs. LHP Brooks Fuller (2-1, 2.78 ERA)

– THURSDAY:Nashville Predators and Sounds organist Krazy Kyle will be providing the tunes. The Home Run Lounge will open 2 ½ hours prior to first pitch all three games.
– FRIDAY:The first 1,000 fans will receive a VandyBoys seat cushion presented by Coca-Cola.
– SATURDAY:Vanderbilt hosts its Salute to Service Day. The first 1,000 fans will receive a replica Vanderbilt batting practice jersey. There will also be a free kid zone from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. located in the McGugin Center parking lot.

Vanderbilt and Auburn meet for the 131st time in the history of the programs Thursday. Auburn leads the all-time series 97-62-1, dating to 1908. Vanderbilt is 35-30 in Nashville and 14-4 vs. the Tigers at Hawkins Field.

Vandy’s 31-9 start is its best through 40 games since beginning its 2013 campaign 34-6. The Dores finished that season with 54 victories. Vanderbilt’s .311 average is its highest through 40 games since batting .316 through as many in 2013.

Vanderbilt leads the SEC in slugging (.508), on-base percentage (.408) and triples (13). The Dores are second in average (.311) and hits (438). Vandy is the only Power 5 program to have three players with 40-plus RBIs (JJ Bleday, Philip Clarke and Ethan Paul) and one of two programs  nationally (New Mexico State).

Vanderbilt returns to action Tuesday, hosting Tennessee Tech. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The matchup will be the ninth against an in-state opponent. The Commodores are 6-2 in those games, batting .344 and averaged 8.8 runs per game while limiting opponents to a .197 average and 2.96 ERA.