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The Third Annual “Battle of the Barrel” v. U. Louisville

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The biggest mid-week game of the year!

Vanderbilt v. Louisville in last year's Super Regional
Vanderbilt v. Louisville in last year's Super Regional
USA TODAY Sports

The Third Annual "Battle of the Barrel"

Vanderbilt leads the series 2-0

Vanderbilt: 36-12 (14-10 SEC) #10 USA Today, #18 Baseball America, #5 RPI

v. The University of Louisville Team We're Forced to Play in the Super Regionals Every Damned Year Due to Proximity: 37-11 (14-4 AAC, which is a real conference, apparently) #7 USA Today, #10 Baseball America,# 14 RPI

Tonight, we play the 3rd annual "Battle of the Barrel" (6:30 CT at Hawkins Field).  I'm just going to assume this series was named for the bourbon rich region in which both teams reside and not as a celebration of our nation's coopers.  Though Vanderbilt's taken the barrel home both years thus far, Louisville's taken the games when they've mattered, sweeping us 2-0 in last year's Super Regional (ALL THE EXPLETIVES!!!).

Simply put, this team's been a huge pain in our collective asses.

Here are the top three "Louisville Pains in the Ass to Watch Out For" tonight:

1)      #1 SS/2B Sutton Whitting

The 5'10" 165lb junior infielder is far from their best player when they play other teams.  Case in point: his slash line (BA/OBP/SLG) of .236/.395/.299 with 30 stolen bases in 35 attempts tells the story of a light-hitting, high-walking, no power, speed guy... and, well, that's exactly what he is against other teams.  Against Vanderbilt, he's the red death.  He's a grit and guts guy, and we must destroy him lest he destroy us.

2)     #42 OF Jeff Gardner

The senior OF is their best pure hitter and power bat, with a .343/.416/.552 slash.  He's 14th in the country with 52 RBI, so we might want to pitch around this pain in the ass if there's a base open and ducks on the pond.

3)     #19 RHP (Closer) Nick Burdi

The junior closer has been known to throw 101 MPH.  That's not a misprint.  He's got 12 saves, a 0.73 ERA, and a 14.59 K/9 rate.  I rank him the 3rd pain in the ass because if we have the lead late, we probably won't even see him.  Frankly, that's your best chance against Burdi.  He's straight up nasty.  In terms of ass pain, he's a bleeding fissure - best to monitor your diet and avoid altogether.

Tonight's pitching match-up:

VU: Sophomore RHP Walker Buehler (8-1, 1.49 ERA)

UL: Freshman LHP Josh Rogers (1-2, 3.45 ERA)

Keep the barrel in Nashville, boys.

Addendum: Here's Baseball America's Aaron Fitt with his Top 25 Tracker reports on both teams (http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/top-25-tracker-may-5/)

10. LOUISVILLE
Last Week: 4-0.
Overall: 37-11, 14-4 in AAC. (3-2 vs. Top 25).
Weekend Series: 8-1.

↑ 3

Louisville swept a road series at South Florida to run its winning streak to 10 and take over first place in the AAC by percentage points over UCF. After Friday's opener was postponed, the Cardinals swept a doubleheader Saturday. Grant Kay (3-for-4, 2 R) and Jeff Gardner (2-for-5, 2 RBI) led the Louisville offense in the opener behind Kyle Funkhouser (7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 8 K). Gardner had two more hits and two more RBIs in the nightcap, including the game-winning RBI single in the 11th. Jared Ruxer (7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K) was strong in a no-decision in that one, and Cole Sturgeon (2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R) earned the win. The Cards broke a 4-4 tie with three runs in the eighth Sunday, highlighted by Zach Lucas' three-run double.
RESULTS
April 30: Ohio State: W 7-3
May 3-4: @ South Florida: W 3-1, W 3-2 (11 innings), W 9-5
UPCOMING
May 6: @ (18) Vanderbilt
May 9-11: @ Temple

18. VANDERBILT
Last Week: 3-0.
Overall: 36-12, 14-10 in SEC (5-4 vs. Top 25).
Weekend Series: 8-4.

↑ 2

The Commodores swept their second straight series to climb into sole possession of second place in the SEC East. Bryan Reynolds and Jason Delay had three hits apiece to spearhead Vandy's 16-hit attack Friday in support of Tyler Beede (5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K), as the ‘Dores won 8-3. Walker Buehler worked three scoreless innings in relief of the inefficient Beede, who threw 108 pitches in his five-plus innings. Vanderbilt scored all five of its runs in the third inning Saturday, and Carson Fulmer (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K) cruised before handing off to Hayden Stone for the final three innings. Xavier Turner's two-run double in the third inning gave Vandy all the offense it needed Sunday, as Adam Ravenelle and Brian Miller worked 5.1 combined innings of two-hit, shutout relief.
RESULTS
May 2-4: @ Missouri: W 8-3, W 5-1, W 3-1
UPCOMING
May 6: (10) Louisville
May 8-10: @ (4) Florida