Another exciting weekend of SEC baseball is here. #4 Tennessee (32-10, 12-6) will welcome Kentucky (25-19, 9-9) to Rocky Top for a Thursday-Saturday series showdown in Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Both teams are coming off of series victories, and carrying momentum coming into the weekend.
Kentucky took 2 of 3 at Alabama, splitting a doubleheader on Saturday, and making a statement in a blowout victory to clinch the series on Sunday. The Wildcats hit 7 HRs in Sunday’s slugfest to win Sunday’s matchup 11-0. Kentucky has a good bullpen to make up for their inconsistent offense, but if the offense gets going, the Cats can be a problem.
Tennessee is coming off a rollercoaster series win at Texas A&M. Taking game 1 of the double header on Saturday. The Vols held the lead late into game 2, but a 7th inning collapse lead to The Aggies win. Sunday’s rubber match saw 4 lead changes, and 27 total runs scored. Tennessee’s offense struggled early, however in the last 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, the Vols posted 15 runs which included 5 HRs. Tennessee went on to clinch the series with a final score of 20-7. Tennessee did however have a hiccup on Tuesday night. Tennessee lost its midweek game to Lipscomb by a score of 4-1. Tennessee left 13 baserunners stranded, and could not find any answers to get runners across. As we all know in baseball, it happens. If Tennessee carries Tuesday night’s woes into the weekend, Kentucky can very well win this series and shock the Vols.
Game 1: Thursday, April 29 – 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 2: Friday, April 30 – 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Game 3: Saturday, May 1 – 1 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Kentucky’s Keys to Victory
- Throw strikes- Do not let Tennessee work the count to full. Make them earn their way on base.
- Apply pressure on offense- Tennessee has committed 10 errors in its last 8 games. Put the ball in play.
- Tune out the noise- Lindsey Nelson stadium is a hostile environment. Grab onto momentum and hold on to it.
Tennessee’s Keys to Victory
- Reliable Bullpen- Tennessee has found a way to win ballgames with its bullpen. However, last week the bullpen was a liability and gave up the lead twice. Tennessee has to have more reliable arms to lean on in tight games.
- Situational baseball- Tennessee is good at getting the lead off batter on base, they have to find answers to get that run across. 13 stranded runners is not going to win many games.
- Short term memory- Lipscomb gave Tennessee a reality check on Tuesday. Sure, midweek games do not carry much weight because they are used as “get right” games or “rest” games for some of your best players, but what happened Tuesday was a complete loss of focus. Tennessee HAS to put that game behind them and turn their focus to Kentucky, because Kentucky has enough to talent to take advantage.